What differentiates humanistic theories of motivation (e.g. Maslow, Rogers) from other theories (e.g. Hull, Instinct)?
Many researchers in the humanistic approach to psychology have noted the persistent motive within individuals to become competent in dealing with the environment. Successful completion of a task, however, often seems to cause the task to lose some of its value, and new, more difficult challenges are undertaken.
Theorists in this area have described this persistent motive to test and expand one’s abilities by a number of terms. Carl Rogers has described this motive state, as an attempt to grow and reach fulfillment, that is to become a fully functioning individual. Abraham Maslow has described the process as a movement towards self-actualization, an attempt to become all that one can possibly become. According to these approaches, all of us strive to reach our potential. Most of the humanistic theories take the point of view that human behaviour cannot be fully understood without some reference to this striving toward actualization or full functioning.
Rogers pointed out that life itself is an active, ongoing process and that the most basic characteristic of human behaviour is a striving for wholeness. This concept of striving is important because it implies that the process of achieving wholeness is never complete; we change as we grow. Rogers has called this striving to become fully functioning the actualizing tendency and argued that it is innate in all living organisms.
Rogers argued that our environment influences our striving for fulfillment. We are cognitive organisms and our experiences can either help or hinder our attempts to grow. He saw the actualizing tendency as creating both a need for positive regard and a need for positive self-regard.
Maslow also developed a motivational theory that emphasizes the striving to reach one’s full potential as basic to human motivation ...