Third Force Psychology

2 Commentsby   |  04.23.13  |  Student Posts



Third Force psychology is based on the premise that all people are inherently good. It establishes that fact that through a conscious evolution of attitudes, values, and beliefs, a person becomes a self actualized individual with the inner wisdom and confidence to guide their own life in a manner that is personally satisfying and socially constructive. Psychologist Abraham Maslow was one of the primary contributors to this theory and also contributed to humanistic psychology with his famous hierarchy of needs theory of human motivation. One of the trends that I have noticed in this respect comes from the old Missionary goal. Missionary’s ethnocentric goals were based largely on converting people and ‘saving’ as many people as possible through the faith based and sometimes even forceful means. As history has told, missions has been scrutinized for the effect and long term changes made to a population. None the less, missions remains an important role in the American church. Why? Many missionaries go with the ‘save as many people as possible’ approach. They go with a bible thumping approach many times where they don’t necessarily take into account where they people they meet are at in life. What do I mean by this? Normally, missionaries come with the intention to help people self actualize or to help with esteem needs. However, those people aren’t even at that level on the hierarchy of needs. They are preoccupied with getting shelter and having clean water to drink. Needs at the bottom of the pyramid are basic physical requirements including the need for food, water, sleep, and warmth. Once these lower-level needs have been met, people can move on to the next level of needs, which are for safety and security. However, based on the theory, if these needs aren’t met they cannot move up. Based on this theory, how should mission approaches change?


  1. Madison Hudson
    2:01 pm, 04.23.13

    I really like how where you incorporated Missions with Maslow’s hierarchy. This question is something I struggle with when it comes to mission work or helping others in need. Just the fact that Jesus and others in scripture went even 40 days without food or water for spiritual reasons makes me question the importance of our physiological needs. Also, thinking about the extreme poverty throughout the world I wonder if we give food and water without sharing love (the central message of the gospel), are we depriving them of something so much more valuable? Or if we spread the message of the gospel but do not provide food and water, are we spreading the whole gospel?

  2. Lincoln Woods
    8:18 pm, 04.23.13

    I like the perspective of Humanistic psychology that focuses on Mission Work. I believe that those who go into missions are acting in a way that fully achieves their potential as a human being. The idea that people are inherently good is an idea that must exist for this to be true. This is because if people were inherently evil, mission work would be acting in a way that is actually inhuman. Along with that, the fact that you mentioned Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is intriguing. I had never thought about using it as a foundation for mission work, but it absolutely makes sense. In order for mission work to truly be effective, you must meet the needs of those who you hope to convert that are more basic according to Maslow. Telling people that they simply need Jesus would not be very effective, if those people didn’t have clean water or shelter. To truly help them, you need to meet those needs first and build your way up to the need of love that God provides.

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