A Comparison of Maslow, Rogers and the Positive Psychology Movement

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Research has been conducted by psychologists and sociologists to explain how people behave and why they do so in various circumstances. This has led to different opinions from different researchers and all of them have presented various views regarding the behavior of human beings (Myerson 2011). Even though they used different approaches to conduct their studies it is evident that most of their findings and conclusions have a lot of similarities. This means that there are probabilities that they may agree on various issues concerning personality. This discussion is a comparison of Maslow, Rogers and the Positive Psychology Movement approaches to explain various personality issues.


Personality refers to the characters that make people unique and differentiate them from others. These are qualities that make people behave in ways that enable others to identify them. Various sociologists and psychologists have advanced different theories to explain the behavior of human beings. Even though, some of these theories have aroused controversies they still play significant roles in helping students to understand why people behave differently. In addition, they have established grounds for future research by offering a lot of information on this topic.

Personality Theories

There are various theories that explain different issues regarding human personality but this essay will focus on Rodgers, Maslow and Positive Psychology Movement approaches to personality. These have played important roles in explaining personality issues and that is why they are common ways of studying personality.


Abraham Maslow is the most controversial theorist due to his presentation of the hierarchy theory to explain various personality issues. Most critics and his followers have criticized or praised this theory due to what Maslow agues as behavioral determinants. He is credited with developing a hierarchical explanation of why human beings behave differently. He focused on five aspects that he considered important in determining the behavior of human beings.

These aspects were classified and arranged according to their urgency; therefore, those ones at the top are very important in shaping and determining how an individual behaves (Friedman 2011). He argues that people are motivated by five major aspects that determine their behavior. They include self-actualization, esteem, love, security and physiology. Self-actualization includes creativity, morality, objectivity and intelligence that are very important in shaping human behavior.

He claims that these elements are very important in differentiating the behavior of individuals and learning institutions and workplaces use them to grade and classify people (Barondes 2011). Esteem includes issues like confidence, respect, achievements, and morality that make other people respect an individual; therefore making the person be held in high esteem by others. Love and belonging involve issues like intimacy, family ties, friendships, and other interactions that make people feel they are appreciated by other members of the community.

Security involves the protection of an individual’s body, property, and relations to ensure nobody interferes with them. Lastly, physiological needs are those biological processes like eating, reproduction, respiration, and excretion among others that take place in all human beings. He argues that the highest need in this hierarchy is self-actualization that plays a significant role in shaping and determining the behavior of an individual.

Carl Rodgers

He is credited with establishing a different perspective in studying the behavior of human beings especially those that are facing psychological challenges. This focus is based on therapeutic counseling that determines personality traits. He claims that during counseling an individual can develop a positive or negative behavior depending on three main issues (Myerson 2011).

These issues make an individual behave in a manner that will reflect their presence or absence since an individual is perceived to be convinced that his behavior is bordering on his understanding of his body and mind. Rogers argues that the skills, education, and techniques used by the therapist are not as important as these three issues that are determined by an individual. His argument is based on genuineness, acceptance, and understanding that are key attitudes that determine personality traits.

He refers to congruence as the ability of a patient to volunteer to tell the physician the truth about his condition; therefore, this will enable the doctor to treat the patient without guessing his problem (Rena 2009). Secondly, he considers acceptance as a very important part of therapy and explains that a patient must accept that he is sick before he is treated. Secondly, he should accept that he is suffering from a condition that can be treated if he is willing and able to assist the physician to treat him (Barondes 2011). This means that the patient plays an important role in ensuring his body recovers quickly or not.

Lastly, Rodgers argues that the patient must understand everything that concerns his condition and treatment and this means that the physician must take time to explain to him the situation and how it will be managed. This stage helps to reassure the patient that even though the condition may be serious it is important to be cooperative in the treatment process to ensure everything is conducted according to the expectations of the health department.

The Positive Psychology Movement

This is a movement established by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Martin Seligman who believed that there is a probability of establishing a positive human functioning that will achieve scientific comprehension and interventions that will produce positive individuals. These scholars aimed at establishing ways of nurturing talents to make life fulfilling and enjoyable (Schultz 2009).

Therefore, they despised the process of treating mental illness as an effective way of promoting positive behavior among people. They claim that personality can be improved through the identification of talents and all positive attributes of individuals and strengthening them to ensure individuals make good use of these potentials (Rena 2009). Therefore, their main area of concern was to ensure sociologists and psychologists use interventions to improve human life through maximizing the abilities of individuals who seem to have poor personalities.


Maslow, Seligman, and Rodgers identify the need to make use of human potentials to improve their personalities. Maslow identifies these potentials as self-actualization or identity that determines a significant part of human life (Schultz 2009). He claims that when people realize their potentials they can use them to improve their lives through education, training and experience.

In addition, Rodgers stresses the need to identify and understand individuals before treating them since this will play significant roles in determining their behavior. Seligman also supports these ideas by arguing that people can develop positive personalities when they use their potentials to advance their lives. He argues that most people have poor personalities because they are unable to utilize their potentials to improve their lives (Rena 2009). They appreciate the role of skills and abilities in developing positive personalities. They highlight the importance of using these attributes to ensure individuals appreciate their roles in the society and thus become important members that can be relied to do various things.

The theorists argue that everybody has unique values that should be used to promote good relations among them and also develop self-esteem and dignity. In addition, they claim that people must be motivated to appreciate their potentials and use them (Friedman 2011). They highlight the need for incentives and encouragements that play important roles in promoting regular positive behavior among people. This will eventually lead to the development of a positive personality since individuals will identify the need to behave well and interact with other members without feeling discriminated against or having low self-esteem.

Maslow’s theory is more forceful in explaining the development of personality. People are motivated by self-interest to do various things around them this means that the behavior of individuals is determined by what they perceive to be issues that will satisfy their needs. In addition, Positive Psychology Movement is related to Maslow’s approach in explaining that it is possible to develop a positive personality if the needs of an individual do not violate the regulations that guide human interactions (Rena 2009). Lastly, Rodgers’s approach to personality gives a broad view of how people should treat others irrespective of their skills, professions, or experience. Therefore, these their theories are important in understanding personality.


Personality is a challenging topic due to the existence of different perspectives in studying it. However, Maslow, Rodgers and Seligman have managed to bring different perspectives to help people to understand various issues about personality. Even though, they may not present similar arguments their discussions are important in explaining how human personality develops.


Barondes, S. (2011). Making Sense of People: Decoding the Mysteries of Personality. New Jersey: FT Press Science.

Friedman, H. (2011). Personality: Classic Theories and Modern Research with MyPsychKit. New Jersey: Pearson.

Myerson, A. (2011). The Foundations of Personality. California: Wadsworth.

Rena, M. (2009). Personality: Classic Theories and Modern Research. New York: Wiley Publishers.

Schultz, S.E. (2009). Theories of personality. California: Wadsworth.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'A Comparison of Maslow, Rogers and the Positive Psychology Movement'. 6 September.


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1. PsychologyWriting. "A Comparison of Maslow, Rogers and the Positive Psychology Movement." September 6, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/a-comparison-of-maslow-rogers-and-the-positive-psychology-movement/.


PsychologyWriting. "A Comparison of Maslow, Rogers and the Positive Psychology Movement." September 6, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/a-comparison-of-maslow-rogers-and-the-positive-psychology-movement/.