Individual Perceptions of Self-Actualization: What Functional Motives Are Linked to Fulfilling One’s Full Potential?

Jaimie Arona Krems, Douglas Kenrick, Rebecca Neel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Maslow’s self-actualization remains a popular notion in academic research as well as popular culture. The notion that life’s highest calling is fulfilling one’s own unique potential has been widely appealing. But what do people believe they are doing when they pursue the realization of their full, unique potentials? Here, we examine lay perceptions of self-actualization. Self-actualizing, like any drive, is unlikely to operate without regard to biological and social costs and benefits. We examine which functional outcomes (e.g., gaining status, making friends, finding mates, caring for kin) people perceive as central to their individual self-actualizing. Three studies suggest that people most frequently link self-actualization to seeking status, and, concordant with life history theory, what people regard as self-actualizing varies in predictable ways across the life span and across individuals. Contrasting with self-actualization, people do not view other types of well-being—eudaimonic, hedonic, subjective—as furthering status-linked functional outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1337-1352
Number of pages16
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume43
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

Keywords

  • evolution
  • fundamental motives
  • motivation/goals
  • self-actualization
  • social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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