Unconditional Positive Regard: Definition & Examples

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Lesson Transcript
Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Expert Contributor
Jennifer Levitas

Jennifer has a Ph.D. in Psychology. She's taught multiple college-level psychology courses and been published in several academic journals.

Unconditional positive regard is an important aspect of many forms of psychotherapy. Learn more about the definition of unconditional positive regard, learn how to apply this concept to your life, and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Unconditional Positive Regard Defined

Unconditional positive regard (UPR) is a term credited to humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers and is used in client-centered therapy. Practicing unconditional positive regard means accepting and respecting others as they are without judgment or evaluation. This is different from unconditional love; unconditional positive regard does not require love or affection - it simply refers to acceptance of others whether you like them or not. Unconditional positive regard can be misunderstood as being nice, pleasant, or agreeable with others; however, unconditional positive regard is not an action towards others. Rather, it's more like a feeling or mindset.

Application of Unconditional Positive Regard

Unconditional positive regard encourages us to share our thoughts, feelings, and actions with others without fear. When working with a client using unconditional positive regard, a therapist might respond to the client's negative behavior by focusing on the feelings associated with the action rather than the action itself. As a result, a client feels free to try things out and make mistakes, because the client knows he or she will be accepted no matter what. For example, children may become more likely to explore their environments and discover new things about the world they live in when they don't fear judgment from their parents because of their behavior.

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Additional Activities

Unconditional Positive Regard

Activity 1:

You learned about unconditional positive regard in this lesson, and read that children who have received this are happier and more likely to accept themselves. Should parents always, on every occasion, show unconditional positive regard? Are there any downsides to unconditional positive regard in parenting? Is there a chance that it could hinder or interfere with teaching children morals and values when they behave in ways that are immoral or unacceptable? Form an opinion on this topic and write two to three paragraphs stating and supporting your position.

Activity 2:

Carl Rogers, a humanistic therapist, was purported to show unconditional positive regard to all of his clients. If you were a therapist, would you be able to do this successfully? What if you had a client who committed, or thought about committing, heinous acts? Could you still exude unconditional positive regard for that client? Write a journal entry about a fictitious client who has committed a moral offense against humanity, and how you could, or could not, show him unconditional positive regard.

Activity 3:

Have you observed families who show only conditional positive regard? For example, do you know any parents who may only show pride and happiness if a child brings home good grades, excels on the soccer field, or is the captain of the debate team? If so, think about the behavior of the child. How does this affect him or her? What is your assessment of the child's self-esteem and self-concept? Does the child seem to crave attention and praise? Does the child feel shame when he or she does not excel? Write two to three paragraphs about what you have observed in this family and your thoughts about the development of the child. (Do not use real names or identifying information in your paper.)

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