Critique of Rogers

How well does Rogerian theory satisfy the six criteria of a useful theory? First, does it generate research and suggest testable hypotheses? Although Rogerian theory has produced much research in the realm of psychotherapy and classroom learning (see Rogers, 1983), it lias been only moderately productive outside these two areas and thus receives only an average rathig on its ability to spark research activity within the general field of personality.

Second we rate Rogerian theory high on falsification. Rogers was one of only a few theorists who spelled out his theory hi an if-then framework, and such a paradigm lends itself to either confirmation or disconfirmation. His precise language facilitated research at the University of Chicago and later at the University of Wisconsin that exposed Ins theory of therapy to falsification. Unfortunately, since Rogers's death, many humanistically oriented followers have failed to put lhs more general theory to test.

Third, does person-centered theory organize knowledge into a meaningful framework? Although much of the research generated by the theory lias been lhnited to interpersonal relations, Rogerian theory nevertheless can be extended to a relatively wide range of human personality. Rogers's hiterests went beyond the consulting room and included group dynamics, classroom learning, social problems, and international relations. Therefore, we rate person-centered theory high on its ability to explahi what is currently known about human behavior.

Fourth, how well does person-centered theory serve as a guide for the solution of practical problems? For the psychotherapist, the answer is unequivocal. To bring about personality change, the therapist must possess congruence and be able to demonstrate empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard for the client. Rogers suggested that these three conditions are both necessary and sufficient to affect growth hi any interpersonal relationship, including those outside of therapy.

Fifth, is person-centered theory internally consistency, with a set of operational definitions. We rate person-centered theory very high for its consistency and its carefully worked-out operational definitions. Future theory builders can learn a valuable lesson from Rogers's pioneering work hi constructing a theory of person-

Finally, is Rogerian theory parsimonious and free from cumbersome concepts and difficult language? The theory itself is unusually clear and economical, but some of the language is awkward and vague. Concepts such as "organismic experiencing," "becoming," "positive self-regard" "need for self-regard" "unconditional self-regard" and "fully functioning" are too broad and imprecise to have clear scientific meaning. This criticism is a small one, however, hi comparison with the overall tightness and parsimony of person-centered theory.

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