Monday, July 18, 2005

Needs, Goals and Well-Being

The “What” and “Why” of Goal Pursuits: Human Needs and the Self-Determination of Behavior
It's not an easy read, but this stuff is really solid. Each argument and theory is backed up by studies and references, and it's packed with ideas that apply to my thesis work (1, 2). I thought this section was great (if a bit convoluted):
Ryan, Sheldon, Kasser, and Deci (1996) argued that the pursuit and attainment of some life goals may provide greater satisfaction of the basic psychological needs than the pursuit and attainment of others, and that those providing greater satisfaction would be associated with greater well-being. Specifically, T. Kasser and Ryan (1993, 1996) distinguished between intrinsic aspirations (i.e., goals such as affiliation, personal growth, and community contribution, which are closely associated with basic need satisfaction) and extrinsic aspirations (i.e., goals such as attaining wealth, fame, and image, which are more related to obtaining contingent approval or external signs of worth, and thus are, on average, expected to be less likely to yield direct need satisfaction and may even distract from it).
Basically, they go on to show how pursuing (and even achieving) external measures of success like wealth and fame do not tend to make people happy, at least compared to the sense of well-being they get from pursuing (and achieving) goals related to more intrinsic measures like personal growth and community contribution. Seems kind of obvious, but don't you think most of us tend to focus more of our time/money on the former (extrinsic aspirations)?

No mention of values in this section of the paper, with the focus firmly on motivations. I need to think through the relationship between the two...

No comments: