In Carl Rogers’s theory of personality, the organismic valuing process refers to evaluating subjective experiences in order to determine the possible impact they will have on self-improvement.
What Is the Organismic Valuing Process?
According to Rogers, the underlying motive that drives behavior is the need for self-actualization. In other words, we are always striving to become the best possible versions of ourselves that we can be. The actualizing tendency motivates us toward self-actualization, but it is the organismic valuing process that helps guide this actualizing tendency.
As we approach an experience or event, we consider both the short-term and long-term potential it has to aid us in our quest toward reaching our full potential.
Rogers believed that, when presented with two different alternatives, people who are emotionally healthy and self-aware will always choose the option that best promotes the actualizing tendency.
When you evaluate different experiences, the organismic valuing process influences whether you view them positively or negatively. Those that have the potential to enhance the self are viewed in a positive way. Those that post a threat or are inconsistent with how a person views themselves will be judged negatively.
If you are at a party and decide to stop drinking, friends might pressure you to keep drinking in order to “have fun.” While this pressure might lead to short-social acceptance, the evaluation of the organismic valuing principle might cause you to place more weight on the long-term risks associated with getting drunk such as being arrested for drunk driving on your way home from the party.
Rogers fundamentally believed that people are capable of assessing both their inner situation and external influences and making choices that are the most beneficial to the self.
Carducci BJ. The Psychology of Personality: Viewpoints, Research, and Applications. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing; 2009.
Thomas JC, Segal DL. Comprehensive Handbook of Personality and Psychopathology, Personality and Everyday Functioning. (Eds.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons; 2006.