I went through literature and I am confused which theories of personality belong to humanistic, in literature there is often just Rogers (who is sometimes also considered to be phenomenologic) and Maslow. Do you know about some other that could be considered for humanistic too? Can I say that all humanistic psychologists created humanistic personality theory (e. g. Allport, Frankl etc.)?


1 Answer 1


TLDR: All humanistic psychologists helped to shape todays overall humanistic personality theory "(e.g. Allport, Frankl etc.)"

In order to enable a full grasp of the subject, I need to go over a few things, and to a degree, I am revisiting a few areas I covered in other answers to questions. In fact, mentioning Gordon Allport in your question made me find something out which changes a few things in my past research. You got an upvote from me with that.

First, a bit of history

As I pointed out in Why has behaviourism fallen out of favour?, there are what is known as 3 forces of psychology

Although there is now talk of a possible fourth force such as Multicultural Psychology or Transpersonal Psychology

The humanistic approach is said to have been fully developed in the 1950s through a meeting between Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Clark Moustakas; and the underpinning philosophy of humanistic thinking is that, in the view of Maslow (1968, p. 10), psychoanalysis attends to the ‘sick’ half of therapy – disorder and treatment – whilst humanistic therapy tends to the ‘healthy’ half – growth, potential and self-actualisation. (Reeves, 2013). However, the discussion regarding Humanistic Psychology was started a lot earlier than that by Gordon Allport in 1930 (see below).

Humanistic models of approach include (Counselling Directory, n.d.):

All the founders of the above therapies (including Eric Berne) helped form Humanistic Psychology.

As my first link indicated, Behaviourism hasn't completely fallen out of favour. Due to the work of Carl Rogers, there has been some shift, although not a complete shift, away from the rigidity of the Psychodynamic approach towards the Humanistic approach to therapy and Behaviourism has also started to gain more of the spotlight again.

The key concepts of Person-Centred Counselling, Transactional Analysis and Gestalt Therapy are three of the most widely practiced. (Reeves, 2013)

According to Dr. David R. Hiles of De Montfort University, Leicester, England, the Pioneers of Humanistic-Existential Psychology include:

Carl Jung (1875-1961)

Carl Jung is possibly one of the most important figures in psychology, and yet he remains controversial. For many psychologists he is little more than a historical curiosity. Someone who worked with Freud in the early days of the founding of psychoanalysis, and then went his own way, founded his own school of psychology, became rather eccentric, and is worthy of only the most cursory of mentions in introductory text books. To other psychologists, he is possibly the most complete psychologist that there has ever been.

Rollo May (1909-1994)

Rollo May, the distinguished existential psychologist and existential psychotherapist, was a co-founder of the Humanistic Psychology movement. He was an outspoken critic of his contemporaries, and was largely responsible for integrating the humanistic and existential traditions.

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)

Maslow was a major American psychologist, a visionary, an inspired thinker, who radically altered the course of development of the discipline of psychology. Born in New York, he was educated at the University of Wisconsin, where he studied primate behaviour under Harry Harlow and Clark Hull. He returned to New York in 1935 by accepting a research position with Edward Thorndike at Columbia University. Through his contact with the New School for Social Research, near Greenwich Village, he came to know and study with:- Alfred Adler, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney of the psychoanalytic school; Kurt Goldstein, Max Wertheimer and Kurt Koffka of the Gestalt school of thought.

Frederick (Fritz) Perls, the founder of Gestalt psychology, is also on the list (see below).

Carl Rogers (1902-1987)

Rogers pioneered the development of client-centred therapy. A major figure in the history of psychology, with a basically optimistic view of humankind, he was a co-founder of the Humanistic Psychology movement.

James Bugental (1915- )

James Bugental is an important figure in the early development of humanistic psychology, and in the practice of a humanistic approach to psychotherapy.

Erich Fromm (1900-1980)

Erich Fromm was a German psychoanalyst and social theorist, who always saw himself as neo-Frudian in orientation, but who many regard as having occupied a key position on the periphery of the humanistic movement.

Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974)

Assagioli was an Italian psychiatrist and founder of Psychosynthesis. He trained as a psychoanalyst and was a member of the Freud Society in Zurich. He withdrew from membership as he became discontented with a lack of consideration with the growth of human potential by Freud and his followers, and during the 20's and 30's began to develop his own theory and methods. Only in the 50's and 60's was his work recognized outside of Italy.

Frederick (Fritz) Perls (1893-1970)

Perls was a Freudian trained psychoanalyst, the founder of Gestalt therapy, and a charismatic figure. Born in Berlin, he received his M.D. from Frederich Wilhelm University, and then received a psychoanalytic training with Wilhelm Reich as his analyst. He met many of the key founders of Gestalt psychology (Kohler, Wertheimer, Lewin) and worked as Kurt Goldstein's assistant. He went to South Africa in 1934, where he set up the Institute of Psychoanalysis, and met Jan Smuts, the inventor of the term "holism". Moving to the USA in 1946, with his wife he set up the New York Institute of Gestalt Therapy in 1952.

Viktor Frankl (1905-1997)

Frankl saw that each person's suffering is unique, and opportunity for growth lies in the way the person bears their suffering. Logotherapy is an attempt to implement that insight in a therapeutic context. Frankl had been strongly influenced by the existential philosophers, Heidegger and Jaspers, and began to develop a philosophy of his own. As the titles of his many popular books suggest, Logotherapy is concerned basically with meaning, the will to meaning, the unheard cry for meaning.

And a few others

Gordon Allport (1897–1967)

You mentioned Gordon Allport in your question and yet he is not mentioned by Dr. David R. Hiles, or Reeves above, which is interesting because it is argued that the term "humanistic psychology" was first coined by Gordon Allport in 1930 (DeCarvalho, 1991).

(Allport, 1930) under the subheading of 'A new Science Needed' said:

My points, I fear, have been arbitrarily chosen and rather dogmatically presented. In no other way, however, is it possible to illustrate in a short time the thesis of this paper, namely that a deliberate formulation of a science of personality is not only a necessary but an altogether possible task. It is mere laziness to insist that knowing people is an art, and therewith to dismiss the subject. If knowing people is an art, it seems to be an art which, like medicine, can be formulated and communicated, and which can and should be included within a new and broader type of humanistic psychology (p.127, italics added)

DeCarvalho states that you can find similar statements in all of Allport's major works and particularly in the 1960s.

Ignorance of Allport's use of the term humanistic psychology is symbolic of a larger ignorance of Allport's contribution to the humanistic current in American psychology: This omission occurs not only in the texts of the history and systems of psychology, but unfortunately also among humanistic psychologists themselves.....Allport was a well-known personality theorist and perhaps the most prestigious thinker of the early and mid-20th century psychological world who championed the humanistic movement in psychology in the earliest stages. (DeCarvalho, 1991)


Allport, G. W. (1930). Some guiding principles in understanding personality. The family, 11(4), 124-128.
DOI: 10.1177/104438943001100407
Free PDF: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/104438943001100407

Counselling Directory (n.d.) Humanistic Therapies. [Online]
Available at: http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/humanistic.html
[Accessed 16 February 2017].

DeCarvalho, R. J. (1991). Gordon Allport and humanistic psychology. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 31(3), 8-13.
DOI: 10.1177/0022167891313002

Maslow, A. (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being. New York: Van Nostrand.

Reeves, A. (2013). An Introduction to Counselling and Psychotherapy: From Theory to Practice. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Short, F. & Thomas, P. (2015) Core Approaches in Counselling and Psychotherapy. Hove: Routledge.


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