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Bridging Perspectives in Psychology, Politics, and Counseling

  • 03 Pages
  • Published On: 2-12-2023
Humanism vs positive psychology

In psychology, humanism is an approach that emphasizes empathy with a stress on good behavior. In the perspectives of politics and social theory, humanistic approach is presumably advocating for equality and human rights. In counselling and therapy perspectives, humanism approach is believed to allow psychologists focus on the best ways to improve a person’s self-image of actualization (Remmers, 2020). Hence, humanism is considered an optimistic, whole-person theory focusing on what makes every individual different and unique. Positive psychology, on the other hand, is regarded as the scientific study of strengths that enables people to thrive. It’s founded on the belief that individuals deserve to lead a meaningful life that fulfils and cultivates what is best within themselves. Hence, it influences a person’s life in terms of character, strengths, constructive institutions and optimistic emotions. Moreover, it’s argued that positive psychological theory is founded on the belief that happiness is derived from both mental and emotional factors, thus aims to help individuals achieve their happiness every moment


Based on similarities, it’s argued that both humanistic and positive psychology focuses on similar concerns, basically on improving of an individual. Judging from their aims, humanistic psychology commits towards a better full range human experience by being sensitive to unique dimensions like quality of human welfare and experience of creativity and transcendence, which are fully compatible with the objectives of the proponents of positive psychology (Friedman, 2018). Specifically, the humanistic psychologists consider this perspective as a forerunner of positive psychology which addresses many concerns that are now key to the focus of positive psychologists. Alternatively, the positive psychologists view humanistic psychology as among the top historical foundations that led to establishment of positive psychology.

However, apart from the former, there are aligned differences between these two approaches. The first difference is on their philosophical foundations where humanistic approach codify to the theological and philosophical works of Buber, whereas positive psychology consider works of Aristotle to explain humanistic concept. The other philosophical difference is on nature of phenomenological experience. Experience is considered inherently personal hence is a problem that can be partially resolved, hence communication is not so necessary. In positivism, the latter is a core for appreciating a person’s isolation and loneliness, whereas for humanistic proponents, communication is perceived as problematic in either of the interaction levels. The other difference lies on ontology and understanding human nature. For humanism, there is no existence without form, however, for positive psychologists, there is an existence of a genetic human nature as well as individual nature (Hwang, 2019). Furthermore, in terms of epistemology, the humanistic psychology approach tends to prefer post positivism; a metatheoritical stance of critiquing and amending positivism while positive psychologists tend to prefer logical positivism. In regards to methodology, the humanistic approach tends to prefer a qualitative approaches over quantitative approach while for positive psychologists the opposite is preferred.

Question 2: Interaction between genetics and environment

While there are many nuances to the genetics vs environment in development of an individual, psychologists have been keen on highlighting the relationship between the innateness of an attribute and the environmental impacts on the attribute. Insofar, biopsychosocial models indicates affirm the existence of biological, psychological a social factors that plays a major role in human development (Barlow, 2019). In a nativist (nature) development account, proponents would argue that the processes involved in human development are innate and are influenced by organism’s genes. Therefore, a natural individual behavior is perceived as the result of the already-available biological factors in human, like the genetic code. From the empiricist (nurture) point of reasoning, it’s arguable that the developmental processes are acquired through interaction with environment, therefore, nurtured human behaviors are seen to be the results of environmental interaction which provokes the changes in the brain structure and composition.

Based on the presumptions of biopsychosocial model, it’s inevitable that every individual is born with particular inherited trait from parents like height, personality traits among others. Beyond the basic genotype, there is always a deep interaction between the genes and the environment in that the unique environmental experiences influences how an individual expresses certain traits (Hufer et al., 2020), and concurrently, the genes also influences how an individual interacts with the environment. In this sense, heredity is a core concept that attributes to the difference between individuals; that dictates the magnitude of a trait variation in a given population due to genetic differences within that particular population. Fundamentally, the individual development of even some of the most highly heritable traits probably depends on both heritability and environmental factors like the genes of the organism as well as the oxygen and temperature levels during the times of development. Hence environmental inputs simultaneously affects the expression of genes to create human traits during development.

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A concrete example in this case would be through development of schizophrenia disorder. It is normally considered a psychosis brain disorder that affects an individual’s thinking, perception and sense of self. Schizophrenia is highly linked with genetic variation as a major risk factor. It’s believed that the interaction of genetic changes with the environment is what leads development of the condition. Genetically, it’s believed that the disorder can be passed through heredity factors that causes error in brain development and synaptic connection. Moreover, it’s argued that environmental components may also cause the condition by interacting with genetic liability in a negative way (Kandler et al., 2019).


Barlow, F. K. (2019). Nature vs. nurture is nonsense: On the necessity of an integrated genetic, social, developmental, and personality psychology. Australian journal of psychology, 71(1), 68-79.

Friedman, H. L. (2018). Reconciling humanistic and positive psychology: Further bridging the cultural rift.

Hufer, A., Kornadt, A. E., Kandler, C., & Riemann, R. (2020). Genetic and environmental variation in political orientation in adolescence and early adulthood: A Nuclear Twin Family analysis. Journal of personality and social psychology, 118(4), 762.

Hwang, K. K. (2019). A psychodynamic model of self-nature. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 32(3-4), 285-306.

Kandler, C., Waaktaar, T., Mõttus, R., Riemann, R., Torgersen, S., & Wrzus, C. (2019). Unravelling the interplay between genetic and environmental contributions in the unfolding of personality differences from early adolescence to young adulthood. European Journal of Personality, 33(3), 221-244.

Remmers, A. (2020). Theoretical foundations and roots of Positive Psychotherapy. In Positive psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychology (pp. 297-307). Springer, Cham.

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