Psychology Study Material: Carl Rogers, Self-Concept and Conflicts

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Carl Rogers

  • All people required loving and respecting. This is a universal phenomenon that is reflected in their need for positive regard.
  • This love and regard come to us from other people. When other people provide for this basic need, we become dependent on them. We begin to rely on others՚ values and evaluate and judge ourselves through the eyes of others.

Self-Concept and Conflicts

  • Our self-concept and others՚ opinions are related.
  • At times there may be discrepancies or conflicts between our self-concept (self-impression) and our actual experiences.
  • Minor discrepancies lead to minor problems, whereas deeper conflicts lead to psychological disturbances in daily functioning e. g. frequent obsessions or anxiety.

Unconditional Positive Regard

  • A person՚s conflicts can be resolved if he receives unconditional positive regard from another person.
  • Unconditional positive regard means an attitude of total acceptance and respect from another person without any conditions. No matter what you say or do, the person accepts it.
  • As a result of this acceptance, a person gets an opportunity to evolve and grow cognitively as well as emotionally, and to develop a more realistic self-concept.


  • According to the humanistic approach, self-actualization is the ultimate goal of personality growth (see Rogers and Maslow) .
  • Self-actualization is a state of self-fulfilment in which people realize their optimal potential.
  • Self-actualization occurs when our everyday life experiences and our self-concept match closely.
  • Self-actualized people accept themselves the way they are in reality. This enables them to achieve happiness and a feeling of fulfilment.

Biological Approaches to Personality

Approaches that emphasize the significance of biological variables and inherited personality


These approaches propose that important components that constitute our personality are inherited or genetically determined e. g. temperament.


  • Temperament is one of the main ingredients of personality.
  • Temperament is the basic, innate disposition that emerges early in life.
  • Even very young infants show signs of different dispositions e. g. some smile, some frown even when otherwise at ease, some are irritable, some calm, some shy, and some restless.
  • Such behaviours persist and at an early stage in their life the children are labelled as stubborn, shy, restless etc.

Inhibited Children

  • According to Jerome Kagan children who are unusually fearful of the sight of unfamiliar adults, and fret when confronted with unfamiliar objects or new settings are the inhibited children.
  • Such children are labelled as ″ shy ′ by their parents and teachers by the age of 3 - 4 years.
  • They are consistently shy and emotionally restrained and noticeably quite in unfamiliar situations.
  • They constitute around 10 % of all children.

There are biological differences between the inhibited and uninhibited children:

  • At age 5 muscle tensions (especially in the vocal cords and the larynx) is higher in inhibited children.
  • They differ in the heart beat pattern too. They experience more of rapid resting heartbeat. In case of confronting a new situation their heart beat increases more.
  • Hormonal differences and variations in the excitability of the limbic system of the brain have also been seen to be different in the two groups.
  • Kagan concluded that these differences can be explained in terms of an inborn characteristic of the inhibited children i.e.. , their greater physiological reactivity.

Twin Studies Supporting the Genetic Argument

  • A number of studies on twins reared together and reared apart have supported the biological approach to understanding personality.
  • Study by Auke Telegen and colleagues (1988) .