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The Theory of Personality proposed by Carl Rogers

The Theory of Personality proposed by Carl Rogers

May 6, 2021

Humanistic psychology is one of the most important schools of thought in psychology. From it, people like Abraham Maslow (with its popular Pyramid of Maslow) or Rollo May They defended a positive vision of the human being, according to which we are all capable of becoming the kind of people we want.

The personality theory of Carl Rogers it is an example of this vital optimism brought to psychology and philosophy. Let's see what this theory consists of.

The person, according to humanism

Certain currents of psychology have been associated with a pessimistic view of the human being. For example, Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis presents an explanation of the psyche in which unconscious desires and their clash with social norms govern our behavior, and American behaviorism has been accused of presenting people as machines that react to external stimuli. .


However, humanist psychologists such as Carl Rogers proposed some ideas about the mental processes in which emphasizes the freedom of individuals when it comes to taking the direction of their lives . According to them, neither biological nor environmental factors are determinants in our behavior, and do not irremediably "drag" us towards certain types of behavior. In short, they were not deterministic.

Specifically, Carl Rogers he believed that each person's personality developed according to the way in which he manages to approach (or move away from) his vital goals , goals.


This idea that personal development and the way in which the individual struggles to become what they want to be is a central idea of ​​humanistic psychology, but for Carl Rogers it is especially important, because for him it is through personal development how character and way of being are formed

Carl Rogers and the highly functional personality theory

Carl Rogers proposes the idea that the personality of each individual can be analyzed according to the way in which he approaches or moves away from a way of being and living the life to which he puts the label of highly functional person.

Highly functional people are characterized by being in a constant process of self-actualization, that is, seeking an almost perfect fit with the goals and vital goals. This process of personal development is in the present, so it is always in operation. In this way, the personality of highly functional people is, for Carl Rogers, a framework in which a way of living lives that adapts to the circumstances constantly flows in real time .


How is the highly functional person?

According to Carl Rogers, the personality traits that defined highly functional people are defined according to the following five characteristics.

1. Openness to experience

The personality of highly functional people is, according to Carl Rogers, very open to experience, in a broad sense. It does not adopt a defensive attitude by default before the unknown, but prefers to explore new possibilities. That is why This type of personality is defined by the acceptance of the emotions associated with what is being lived , the non-avoidance of "negative emotions" and the adoption of receptive attitudes in situations that are not clearly dangerous.

2. Existential lifestyle

This characteristic has to do with the tendency to assume that it is oneself who has to give meaning to the experiences that are experienced at each moment , through a process of creation of meaning. In this way, the way of living day-to-day is allowed to be spontaneous, creative, without trying to make everything that is perceived fit the force in preconceived schemes. The lifestyle associated with this type of personality, for Carl Rogers, is characterized by avoiding the tendency to prejudge.

The present is not analyzed as something that must be fully explained by the experiences of the past, but is lived fully.

3. Self confidence

For Carl Rogers, the fact of embracing a free way to live life entails relying on one's own criteria and one's own way of making decisions over any other reference. The idea is that, as nobody knows better than oneself the very way of living life, it does not tend to rely on codes of behavior imposed from external instances .

4. Creativity

The fact that the highly functional people of Carl Rogers are enemies of dogmas and conventions makes them look beyond what is considered "normal". This provides the necessary foundation for them to develop their creativity.

5. Freedom of choice

The creative and innovative way of being of the highly functional personality theorized by Carl Rogers makes these people are able to find new behavioral options where apparently there are only a few . This defines the nonconformist nature of this personality type, which is capable of solving paradoxes in which there is an apparent contradiction between the options that a priori seem available.

6. Constructive character

This type of personality shows a great facility to respond to all needs in a balanced way , so that crises are used as opportunities to build new opportunities and find ways to achieve levels of well-being.

7. Personal development

Personal development it is the vital engine of highly functional people . It is lived as a process of constant change, in which a definitive final goal is never reached but it is passed from one stage to another.

Criticisms and observations on Rogers' theory

The characteristics and definitions that Carl Rogers uses to define highly functional people are very abstract and highly ambiguous, since sticking to very rigid concepts would go against his idea that a personality based on self-actualization and personal development flows constantly and escapes the conventions.

However, this has also won him many criticisms: after all, practically everyone can feel identified with the traits that are attributed to highly functional people , following the logic of the Forer effect.

Only each person is able to judge to what extent it is useful or inspiring to have these characteristics as a reference.


2015 Personality Lecture 10: Humanism: Carl Rogers (May 2021).


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