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Are Humans Driven by Aggressive Instincts or Naturally Good?

Sigmund Freud and Carl Rogers, the giants of psychology, proposed different theories on human nature. According to Freud, human nature includes inbuilt primitive murderous urges which drive behavior. On the other side, Roger believed in the assumption of human beings’ inherently innate goodness as an indication of an intrinsic capacity for favorable evolvement and progress. In this essay, I explore contrary opinions using evidence-based data and psychology theories. The course will take readers through numerous studies and views, enabling them to identify the main direction in which humanity’s inherent predisposition points, whether it predominately revolves around natural aggression or has its basis in an innate form of goodness. As a result, in this exploration, we will understand how to analyze the interaction of automatic instincts and social influence on humanity to integrate these diverse views.

Freud’s Proposition of Aggressive Instincts:

According to Freud’s psychoanalytical model, there was a storehouse for aggression and destruction. It was located in the id – the ancient impulsion part of the mind. According to this construction, Freud came up with the “death drive” or “Thanatos,” claiming these hostile urges were an important part of human character (Hageback, 2020). What constituted the core of Freud’s statements was the fact that aggression originates from fundamental innate impulses. It plays a significant role in motivating a person’s behavior and actions. From this viewpoint, this theory argues that attack occurs because this feature is inherent in people.

Freud’s observations were mainly based on his extensive clinical experience and developed into an advanced interpretation of the world of unconsciousness. Freud’s philosophical premises portrayed psychiatry. The psyche consists of three constituent elements of conflicting nature: Id, Ego, and Superego (Hageback, 2020). This internal battle featured the drives of the IDs, which were characterized by violent impulses competing against societal conventions, norms, and morals. Based on this, Freud concluded that mankind has the basic aggression needs that make up their unconscious wishfulness to resist external societal conditions.

Rogers’ Perspective on Inherent Goodness:

In sharp contrast, the theory of Carl Rogers opposed the theory of Freud, emphasizing the positive aspect of each person. Such an internal motivation caused them to develop and experience individual prosperity because of their innate abilities. At the core of Rogers’ argument, people typically choose constructive change and positive growth in favorable situations (Weinstein et al., 2022). This view argues that individuals are genetically coded for growth given the right atmosphere. Such supportive settings are useful when one’s capability determines one’s growth and positivity.

In his humanistic approach, Rogers pointed out six components of a psychological care environment: positive self-image, unlimited acceptance, acceptance, and empathy. This meant that individuals exhibited generous, sympathetic, and cooperative qualities when circumstances supported growth. According to Rogers, his surrounding context is the external manifestation of their “inner goodness” (Weinstein et al., 2022). In this sense, the environments that provide empathetic and verifiable feelings for the innate tendency of a person to be positive and cooperative help him manifest his inner goodness that is congruent with him.

Evidence-Based Analysis:

Aided with empirical studies of current work conducted on the subject, such as that which shows how evolutionary psychology reveals the complexity of relationships regarding naturally aggressive tendencies versus socially constructed elements in human behavioral traits. From the perspective of this conception, this inclination toward some forms of conduct has to be viewed as a highly sophisticated product of thousands of generations’ responses to numerous environmentally triggered stresses (Pazzaglia et al., 2021). It encompasses aggression as part of the wider span of reactive behavior. These acts of violence were crucial because the ancestors would fight to defend valuables and loved ones. As a result of these basic survival needs, the body transformed and exhibited many kinds of reactions. This way, the body expresses an aggressive and prosocial pattern, making up the behavioral ecosystem in human life.

Social and developmental psychology also adopts a distinct stand whereby they focus on how being socialized in different cultures or responding to various environmental factors results in varied behaviors among people. These disciplines emphasize the complex interrelation of inborn genetic predisposition and external factors affecting one’s behavior in a debate about nature versus nurture (Hosken et al., 2019). This view holds that while these prejudices might be the final result, outsiders contribute most to reshaping and modifying them. This shows how complex gene-related genetic vulnerabilities blend with trait and behavioral patterns in their interaction to contribute to all the elements involved in human activities. It proves that regarding human development, environmental factors also play a role and contribute to the diversification of understanding people’s origins.

Contemporary Perspectives:

A modern approach to psychology recognizes that human behavior and its patterns are more complex than a model can describe them. This effort can be seen in the social–cognitive perspective, stating the interchange between a person and his society or vice versa. Product development teams and behavioral outcomes depend on observational, cognitive, sensory, and behavioral stimuli. As per this orientation, several approaches can be utilized to develop behavior. One can see a particular behavior from all over and think about the perception of things one sees. Then one can do it too, for example, that which is visualized in one’s imagination and which one has thought to be right. According to this concept, behavior comes out of cognition and other internal factors, plus ongoing knowledge from the external environment influences individual actions tremendously.

Positive psychology has become a whole new discipline that aims to discover humans’ strong features, virtues, and integral welfare. This emphasizes the natural capacity of people to act in generous ways, with regard for each other, and to work together collectively. Regarding this research domain, studies emphasize developing desirable human features and creating favorable surroundings for their well-being (Chawla, 2020). Positive psychology explains how achieving transformation in individual growth is possible through creating good conditions within which people can nurture constructive behaviors. It highlights not just exhibiting favorable features but rather stresses flourishing in the appropriate atmosphere where such characteristics can be enhanced and grow big.


An intricate view develops when analyzing the discussion around Freud’s theory of the aggressive instinct and the constant affirmation of Rogers’ concept of the inherent goodness of human nature. It is suggested, within empiricism, that behavior is a product of internal preferences and external influences. Some vestiges of the aggressive instincts could have been left from the evolution point of view. Nevertheless, during this process, humans exhibit prosocial dispositions molded by the forces of culture-induced by socialization agents and the environment. This mix of external and internal factors allows one to understand how human behavior, which, unlike environmentally induced and predestined muscles, is not solely a result of inherited traits, works.

Sufficient deliberations must be made concerning the interaction of primordial predispositions with sociocultural conditions. Freud’s conception of aggressive instincts and Roger’s demand for an innocent human nature give us insight into many aspects of behavior. Therefore, hermeneutics is necessary not from just one side but all possible angles. A comprehensive approach to interpreting complicated behavioral patterns by combining various factors.


Chawla, L. (2020). Childhood nature connection and constructive hope: A review of research on connecting with nature and coping with environmental loss. People and Nature, 2(3), 619-642.

Hageback, N. (2020). The Death Drive: Why Societies Self-Destruct. Gaudium.

Hosken, D. J., Hunt, J., & Wedell, N. (Eds.). (2019). Genes and behavior: beyond nature-nurture. John Wiley & Sons.

Pazzaglia, J., Reusch, T. B., Terlizzi, A., Marín‐Guirao, L., & Procaccini, G. (2021). Phenotypic plasticity under rapid global changes: The intrinsic force for future seagrasses survival. Evolutionary Applications, 14(5), 1181-1201.

Weinstein, N., Itzchakov, G., & Legate, N. (2022). The motivational value of listening during intimate and difficult conversations. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 16(2), e12651.


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