Three key concepts are phenomenology, existentialism, and humanistic.
These can be understood as making up the philosophical fabric of
phenomenological views about psychology.
phenomenological perspective can be traced to Wilhelm Wundt who is often
considered as having conducted the first formal psychological research
in the 1870's. Wundt had people "introspect", that is concentrate
on and report on subjective conscious experience. Introspection
was seen as lacking in scientific rigour and as not having any
particular application, then psychoanalysis which emphasized the
unconscious mind came along and become more dominant.
Interestingly, though, in the 1950's and 1960's sense of political and
personal freedom, the importance and interest in subjective experience
become more interesting again to psychology. Figures such as Abraham
Maslow and Carl Rogers emerged and created the humanistic or third force
movement in psychology.
There a number of strands to the phenomenological perspective. There
is no single person or even really any single theory that unites these
perspectives, but they can all be considered phenomenological because
they value and focus on the nature of individual's subjective
The phenomenological perspective, and
particularly the humanistic perspectives, sees humankind as
being intrinsically good and self-perfecting. People are seen as being
drawn towards growth, health, self-sufficiency, and maturity. This is a
very OPTIMISTIC perspective which focuses on people’s POTENTIAL. People
are seen as growing and evolving naturally towards greater beauty and
The major themes and underlying assumptions of
this perspective are:
There is a ‘self’ which has beautiful and unique
It is changing and growing. Everyone’s self is
Once we provide a nurturing outer and inner
environment, growth towards our higher selves occurs naturally.
We have enormous potential, possibility, and
Uniqueness of Individuals: we view the world
from our own unique perspective and our subjective experience of reality
is very important. Phenomenology means “the subjective experience of
We can and must exercise our free will. Some
people think that they don’t have the capacity or ability to make life
HAPPEN for themselves. Or they believe that past problems are
insurmountable. Or they spend so much time regretting the past that they
are blinded to the possibilities of the here and now and the future.
This perspective takes the view that this is due to people losing sight
of the free will they possess and not recognizing their own potential
for change and growth.