Biological and Humanistic Approaches to Personality

Biological and Humanistic Approaches to Personality

Biological and Humanistic Approaches to Personality PSY/250 July 5, 2010 Biological and Humanistic perspectives on the development of the human personality have aided in the understanding of how humans develop their personalities. The Biological and Humanistic perspective theories provide insight into the causes and influences that affect the development and uniqueness of a personality. While both perspectives are quite helpful it is important to remember the contributions made to this field that were put forth by Abraham Maslow in his Hierarchy of needs.

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Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs helps put the need for human growth into perspective and helps us to understand the influence of these needs on personality development. Although these perspectives provide a starting point to understanding personality development, one must keep in mind that when used in conjunction with multiple methods we can achieve a much more accurate diagnosis of how personality is formed. Abraham Maslow presented his Hierarchy of needs to help explain mans physiological needs. Man has before anything else the need for water and food in order to survive.

That’s why the physiological needs are the strongest of all the needs. When a person is hungry the area of consciousness is filled with the desire to eat and all the other needs steps in the background and is in a way non-existent. (Psychosynthesis website, 2006) Maslow believed that the basic needs must be met first before one could reach the next level of the pyramid. After this need is met, going up the pyramid in order there is security, love and belonging, esteem, experience and purpose, and the need for self actualization. Beyond these needs, higher levels of needs exist.

These include needs for understanding, esthetic appreciation and purely spiritual needs. In the levels of the five basic needs, the person does not feel the second need until the demands of the first have been satisfied or the third until the second has been satisfied, and so on (. Based on Maslow’s beliefs it is quite easy to see how important fulfilling the human growth needs truly is. However, there are still several other factors to consider when looking at personality development. Biological factors can play a role in personality development and often have an effect on a person’s temperament.

Early biologically based individual differences are often characterized as differences in temperament. Considerable evidence based on heritability research shows that individual differences in temperament have strong genetic foundations. These genetic foundations lead to individual differences in physiology, which in turn may influence environmental conditions in ways that channel environmental experiences to fit temperamental qualities. Put another way, biological determinants of personality development in some ways influence and shape the environmental conditions that influence development. Net Industries, 2010). All biological factors play off of each other and can influence the formation of one’s personality. However, when comparing the biological factors of personality to Maslow‘s theory of personality it is extremely difficult to see how this factor can be to Maslow’s theory of personality. Biological factors are typically viewed as genetics. How do we go about determining if a trait, a temperament, or a personality feature is inherited through biology or the environment? This question has been answered in part through genetic research.

Genetic research, in relation to personality development, refers to studying the role of genetic and environmental factors through manipulation or convenience. In other words, studying fraternal twins raised apart would provide important information related to inherited traits. Studying adopted siblings not related through biology would allow us to look at the environmental factors that shape personality. (AllPsych website, 2004) Genetics play a role in the development of our personalities, but the relationship of biological factors to Maslow’s theory of personality is unclear.

Maslow’s theory focused on the individual getting physical needs such as food and shelter met first, and then getting emotional needs such as love and acceptance met and so on. Carl Rodgers theory on personality development known as the humanistic perspective has more in common with Maslow’s theory on personality development than genetics do as they both share the tendency for actualization. The humanistic perspective was first presented by Carl Rodgers. Rodgers believed that all humans are innately good.

Rodgers stood in stark contrast to Freudian’s, Freudian’s such as Karl Menninger tells me that he perceives man as ‘innately evil’ or more precisely ‘innately destructive,’ I can only shake my head in wonderment. ” Rogers believes that people are trustworthy, resourceful, capable of self-understanding and self-directing, able to make constructive changes and able to live effective and productive lives. (Salisbury website, n. d. ) Another aspect of this theory that cannot be over looked is that human beings have free will, the right to make choices.

Whether the choice is good or bad is not of concern, simply the fact that humans can control their own destiny is what is important. Thus heredity, environmental, and biological factors are no longer in control. For instance two young boys grow up in a home with an abusive father. One chooses to break the cycle of violence and the other chooses to follow in his father’s footsteps. In this scenario you have two boys from the same father and mother that grew up in the same house who made two different choices and had two completely different lives because of the choices that were made (free will).

What we know of personality development is that personality development is very complicated and that there are numerous factors that will ultimately play into the development of one’s personality. Freud, Jung, Adler, Rodgers and a host of many others have all made remarkable contributions to the study of personality development. However, what we have also learned is that the subjectivity of how each person is viewed is too difficult to capture using a single perspective. Perhaps Rodgers stated it best when speaking about successful therapy he said I finally felt that I simply had to begin doing what I wanted to do, not what I thought I should do, and regardless of what other people feel I should do. This is a complete reversal of my whole life. I’ve always felt that I had to do things because they were expected of me or more important, to make people like me. The hell with it! I think from now on I’m going to just be me…. ” Clients often come to therapy because they feel helpless, powerless and perceive no ability to make decisions or direct their own lives.

The goal is to provide an environment that facilitates their “throwing off the self-imposed shackles that had kept them in a psychological prison. ” (Salisbury website, n. d. ) References Psychosynthesis website. (2006). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and subpersonality work. Retrieved July 4, 2006 from http://two. not2. org/psychosynthesis/articles/maslow. htm Net Industries. (2010). Personality Development – A Biological Perspective on Personality Development. Retrieved July 5, 2010 from, http://social. jrank. org/pages/474/Personality-Development-Biological-Perspective-on-Personality-Development. tml Simons, J. , Irwin, D. , & Drinnien, B. , (1987). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved July 4, 2010 from, http://honolulu. hawaii. edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/ guidebk/teachtip/maslow. htm AllPsych website. (2004). Genetic Research and Biological Theory. Retrieved July 4, 2010 from,http://allpsych. com/personalitysynopsis/biologicaltrends. html Salisbury website. (n. d. ). The Humanistic Theories of Carl Rodgers. Retrieved July 4, 2010 from, http://facultyfp. salisbury. edu/iewhite/The%20Humanistic%20Theories%20of%20Carl%2 0Rogers. htm


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