The Humanistic Psychology–Positive Psychology Divide: Contrasts in Philosophical Foundations

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Abstract

The relationship between the fields of humanistic and positive psychology has been marked by continued tension and ambivalence. This tension can be traced to extensive differences in the philosophical grounding characterizing the two perspectives within psychology. These differences exist with respect to (a) ontology, including the ways in which human nature is conceptualized regarding human potentials and well-being; (b) epistemology, specifically, the choice of research strategies for the empirical study of these concepts; and (c) practical philosophy, particularly the goals and strategies adopted when conducting therapy or undertaking counseling interventions. Because of this philosophical divide, adherents of the two perspectives may best be advised to pursue separately their shared desire to understand and promote human potentials and well-being.

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