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Chapter Eleven

Self-Actualization and Self-Determination

Self-Actualization
Carl Rogers Actualizationtendency to develop capabilities in ways that maintain or enhance the organism (present in all living creatures) Self-Actualizationpromotes maintenance or enhancement of the self
Moves person toward greater autonomy and selfsufficiency Promotes congruence, organization, wholeness, and integration in the person

Self-Actualization (Continued)
Organismic value processmechanism that evaluates whether experiences are actualizing
If not, nagging sense that something isnt right If yes, person is operating as fully functional person

Need for Positive Regard


Strong motive for love, friendship, and affection from important others
Unconditional Positive Regardgiven without any conditions or contingencies Conditional Positive Regardgiven only in situations that meet particular conditions
Conditions of Worthconditions under which a person is considered worthy of regard Conditional Self-Regardapplication of conditions of worth to self

Implications of Conditions of Worth


Conflicts between self-actualization and fulfilling conditions of worth
Example: Desire to be a musician in conflict with recognition of parents aspirations for their child to be a doctor

Sometimes hard to tell true desire from conditions of worth


Condition of worth is a precondition for acceptance and is always coercive

Self-Determination
Ed Deci Three needs that must be satisfied for a life of growth, integrity, and well-being
Autonomy (Self-determination) Competence Relatedness

Self-Determination
Self-Determined Actionsdone because of intrinsic value to self
Longer interest is maintained

Controlled Actionsdone to gain payment or satisfy external pressure


Rewards can undermine intrinsic value of some activities and turn them into controlled actions
Activities are resistant to this effect if the reward informs you about your competency

Introjection and Identification


Introjected Regulation:
Applies standards of should and ought to behavior Behavior done to avoid guilt or to get self-approval Control exerted from external sources

Identified Regulation:
Process whereby behavior comes to hold personal meaning and value (often for growth) over time Not as self-determined as intrinsically motivated behavior, but its close

Need for Relatedness


Represents an intrinsic need Characterized by genuine connectedness with others and unconditional acceptance Not a need based on pressure or demand Not in conflict with autonomy

Self-Concordance
Pursuit of goals that are consistent with core values These bring more contribution to a sense of well-being Creates a positive spiral of benefit
Greater effort Pursuit of core goals Higher well-being More satisfaction Higher success

Free Will
Emphasizes that people are free to determine:
How they act What to become If they are to be self-actualized or accept conditions of worth

Reactanceassertion of freedom when a threat to freedom is perceived Perceptions of free will can be experimentally manipulated

The Self
Development of the self represents gradual differentiation during infancy Self-Conceptset of qualities a person sees as being a part of herself
Actualperception of the way you really are Idealwhat you really want to be

Self-actualization creates a closer fit between the actual and ideal selves

Incongruity, Disorganization, and Defense


Incongruencea disorganization in the self that is detected by the organismic value process
Leads to anxiety Can cause low self-esteem

Ways to defend against anxiety of incongruence


Distortions of the experience
Rationalization

Prevent from reaching awareness


Denial Avoid situations that trigger perceptions of incongruence

Self-Esteem Maintenance and Enhancement


Defenses protect and maintain self-esteem Conditions necessary for an event to have an effect on self-esteem
Event attributable to you Event must be interpreted as good or bad

Defense against failures


Minimize negativity of event (wasnt so bad) Resist attributions to stable qualities of self
Blame others, lack of effort, excuses

Enhancement through success


Attribute to stable characteristics of self Claim control of those characteristics

Self-Handicapping
Acting in a way that creates condition for failure Hard goals and substantial risk of failure represent threats to self-esteem Create an external situation on which potential failure can be attributed and selfesteem can be maintained No threat to stable qualities of the self

Hierarchy of Motives
Abraham Maslow
Focused on most well-adjusted, fully functioning people Examined motivations and how they are organized
Selfactualization need

Esteem needs
Love and belonging needs Safety and physical security needs Physiological needs

Implication of Hierarchy
Low-level needs are more primitive and demanding than higher-level needs Power of motive forces decrease as you go up the pyramid Higher-level motives represent more distinctly human characteristics Needs at lower level must be met before attending to higher-level needs Low-level needs are deficit motivated and highlevel needs are growth motivated

Self-Actualizers
Efficient and accurate in perceiving reality Accepting of themselves, others, and of nature Spontaneous in thought and emotion, natural rather than artificial Problem-centered, concerned with eternal philosophical questions Independent and autonomous when it comes to satisfactions Freshness of appreciation of ordinary events Deep ties, but only with a few persons Appreciate, for its own sake the process of doing things Philosophical, thoughtful, nonhostile sense of humor Maintain inner detachment from culture in which they live Appear temperamental and even ruthless

Peak Experiences
Times when actualization is clearly occurring Heightened sense of connection to elements in surrounding environment Clarity of perception Distortion of time Subjective feelings of awe, wonder, and ecstasy More common during work than leisure

Existential Psychology
Emphasis on individuals personal experience in life with a focus on the existential dilemma Central constructDasein
Translates as being-in-the-world Conveys a sense of experience as an autonomous, separate, evolving entity in the world

Key issue in life is the inevitability of death


Results in angst How to respond to this realization Nothingness Authentic Being

Terror Management
Attempt to construct lives imbued with meaning and value as a response to the potential terror of mortality Often define meaning by social and cultural processes
Group identity is important Rejection of indications of animal nature

Assessment
Many assessment techniques
Interviewcontent analysis organizes responses into meaningful groups Q-SortSort items into piles that correspond to particular criteria (e.g., most like you to least like you) Inventories for self-actualization, autonomy, and control

Problems in Behavior
Problems arise from:
Incongruity and the negative affect that results Living in order to meet conditions of worth Not living in ways that promote selfacutalization

Therapy
Client-Centered Therapy:
Responsibility for improvement lies with client Removes distractions, so self-actualization processes can move client toward greater integration Therapist demonstrates unconditional positive regard and empathy Nonevaluative, rather therapist reflects with
Clarification of feelings Restatement of content And then beyond therapy to personal growth to be a fully functioning person

Self-Actualization and Self-Determination: Problems and Prospects


Emphasis on the uniqueness and validity of each persons experience thats what most think of as personality Optimistic and positive view of human nature leads people to be the best they can be Importance of fully appreciating your own life and being in contact with your feelings through therapy or course corrections At first problems with lack of precision but more recent work has provided more powerful support to overcome this and be taken more seriously Optimism, a virtue of this perspective, has also been criticized. So, too has self-actualization as a goal for everyone potential mutual chaos. But compare this optimism with writings of the existentialists Free will taken for granted is a contentious point All in all, things are looking bright for this approach based on the success of self-determination, stereotype threat, terror management, and self-discrepancies