A debate transcript between two humanistic theorists, outlining why they believe their theories contributed more toward the field of psychology.
Abraham Maslow: As a psychologist, I approach personality studies by zeroing in on a person’s free will, the inborn impulsion towards his or her self-actualization, and subjective experiences. I believe I have made more contributions towards the psychology field than Carl Rogers.
Carl Rogers: That claim is absolutely unfounded Maslow! Why do you make it?
Maslow: I enlarged the scope of the humanistic psychology field more than any other psychologist who came before me. I enlarged it to include explanations of how particular human needs evolve, or change, across a person’s lifespan. Besides, I enlarged the field enough to include explanations how particular human needs shape how a given personality develops. Did you achieve such feats Rogers?
Rogers: While I agree that such feats transformed the psychology field significantly, I am convinced that they did not change it as significantly as the personality theory that I developed. While you were only capable of explaining how particular human needs shape how a given personality develops, I went further to formulate the theory (Rogers, 1959). Owing to the theory, many psychologists emphasize the significance of self-actualization in influencing given personalities.
Maslow: What is coming out from your arguments is that you actually brought nothing new to the field; you only took up my submissions and clothed them in new terms and concepts. You have never made an original contribution to the field unlike me. You must concur with me on that singular point Rogers!
Rogers: Concur with you on a falsity Maslow?
Maslow: First, as indicated earlier, while I have always approached personality studies by zeroing in on a person’s free will, the inborn impulsion towards his or her self-actualization, your only claim to self-actualization is that you put together a theory that persuades many psychologists to emphasize the significance of self-actualization in influencing given personalities. Agreed?
Maslow: Second, while I succeeded in explaining how particular human needs shape how a given personality develops, you used my ideas to develop the personality theory. Agreed?
Rogers: Partly. You must note that I have always agreed with your main suppositions. As well, you must be honest enough to admit that unlike you, I have succeeded in explaining that a person can only “grow” in an environment that affords him or her genuineness, empathy, and acceptance (Rogers, Stevens, Gendlin, Shlien & Van Dusen, 1967). I hope you appreciate these concepts.
Maslow: I would not mind if you explain each of them a bit more.
Rogers: Genuineness means self-disclosure and openness. Acceptance means being taken with unqualified positive regard. Empathy means being understood and listened to keenly. A person “grows” in an environment that allows him or her self-disclosure and openness, allows him or her to be taken with unqualified positive regard, and ensures that he or she is understood and listened to keenly (Rogers, 1959). Aren’t those great concepts that I brought to the field?
Maslow: Indeed, they are great, without them, healthy personalities and relationships would remain undeveloped or underdeveloped (Rakowski, 2008). Trees only grow well in the presence of water along with sunlight!
Rogers: I have always believed that every individual can attain own wishes, desires, and goals in life. When the individual attains own wishes, desires, and goals in life, self-actualization happens. This is my most significant contribution to the field (Rogers, 1959). Do you concur?
Maslow: Partly. Since the self-actualization was originally my creation (Rogers, Stevens, Gendlin, Shlien & Van Dusen, 1967). You realize that the every related research that you’ve ever presented regarding the concept is devoid of the all-important empirical data, or evidence?
Rogers: It’s like I have learned from the best, Maslow! You realize that the every related research that you’ve ever presented regarding the concept is devoid of the all-important empirical data, or evidence?
Maslow: Yes, but some of your submissions surely remain rather shaky without empirical support. For instance, how could you just rebuff the deterministic character of behaviorism and psychoanalysis without providing any supporting empirical data? That rebuff could have shaken the psychology field significantly had you given such data (Rogers, Stevens, Gendlin, Shlien & Van Dusen, 1967). All psychologists would be agreeing with your view that a person behaves in a particular way owing to how he or she perceives her situation.
Rogers: I agree. You must also agree that your submissions on self-actualizers’ personalities failed to transform the field significantly since they were not defined by scientific rigor. Had they been scientifically rigorous, every one in the field would agree with you that self-actualizers express optimal psychological functioning and health and have a consistent personality syndrome (Rogers, Stevens, Gendlin, Shlien & Van Dusen, 1967). I tell you another aspect that has really limited the contribution you purport to have made to the field?
Maslow: Yes, please.
Rogers: The main problem that has limited the impact of your findings on the psychology field: the obvious Western cultural preconception, or bias, in them (Rakowski, 2008). My contributions to the field and related findings are devoid of such bias.
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