Kennon M. Sheldon

University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, United States

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Publications (121)281.33 Total impact

  • Kennon M. Sheldon, Lawrence S. Krieger
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    ABSTRACT: Prior research on intrinsic versus extrinsic values has focused on the comparative importance subjects assign to the two types of values, showing that relative intrinsic versus extrinsic value orientation (RIEVO) predicts higher or increased well-being. In two studies, we show that rated action taken regarding the two types of values is just as essential to study. Support was found for four hypotheses: (1) there was a significant behavior/importance gap, such that participants “walked” (acted on values) less than they “talked” (endorsed those values); (2) this was especially true for intrinsic values, an interaction suggesting that the intrinsic ideals of personal growth, community, and connection often receive only lip service; (3) the “walk” (behavior ratings) measure of RIEVO subsumed the “talk” (importance ratings) RIEVO measure’s effects on well-being outcomes, suggesting that researchers interested in predicting well-being from values should perhaps focus on rated value enactment, not value importance; and (4) participants with higher meaning in life, lower search for meaning, more self-concordance at work, and greater chronological age evidenced more consistency between their talking and their walking.
    Motivation and Emotion 10/2014; 38(5). · 1.55 Impact Factor
  • Kennon M Sheldon
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    ABSTRACT: Pursuing personal goals is an important way that people organize their behavior and mature as individuals. However, because people are typically unaware of their own implicit motivations and potentials, they may pick goals that do not serve them well. This article suggests that "self-concordant" goal selection is a difficult self-perceptual skill, with important ramifications for thriving. Various means of conceptualizing and measuring goal self-concordance are considered. Then, relevant literature is reviewed to show that goal self-concordance, as assessed by a self-determination theory methodology, is predicted by goal/motive fit; that goal self-concordance in turn predicts more persistent goal effort and, thus, better goal attainment over time; and that self-concordant goal selection is enhanced by personality variables and interpersonal contexts that promote accurate self-insight and personal autonomy. Implications for the nature of the self, the causes of personality thriving and growth, and the free will question are considered.
  • Mike Prentice, Marc Halusic, Kennon M. Sheldon
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    ABSTRACT: Two conceptions of psychological needs predominate within contemporary motivational science. Motive disposition theory conceives of needs as behavioral motives which direct behavior (needs-as-motives), while self-determination theory conceives of needs as universally required experiences for optimal functioning (needs-as-requirements). Until recently, these perspectives on psychological needs have proceeded without much intersection, despite the fact that they address the same fundamental concept. Here we summarize the Two Process Model of Psychological Needs, which attempts to bridge these two conceptions. We argue that psychological needs are best defined as tendencies to seek out certain basic types of psychosocial experiences, to a somewhat varying extent across individuals, and to feel good and thrive when those basic experiences are obtained, to the same extent across individuals. We suggest that this definition allows a reconciliation of needs-as-motives and needs-as-requirements perspectives and a more consilient science of human motivation. Empirical support for the TPM is also summarized.
    Social and Personality Psychology Compass 02/2014; 8(2).
  • Christian Hinsch, Kennon M. Sheldon
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    ABSTRACT: Organizations are frequently turning to social Internet applications in an effort to form bonds with consumers. However, little research has addressed the impact of social Internet consumption on the individual. Two studies of regular social Internet consumers (i.e., users of Facebook and socially connected online games) examined the effects of prompted usage reduction or cessation upon participants. In both studies, participants benefitted on average during the reduction/cessation period, reporting increased life satisfaction and decreased procrastination. The Facebooker versus gamer factor had remarkably few effects (i.e., results generalized across these two groups). Implications are discussed for both consumers and organizations involved in social Internet activities. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Journal of Consumer Behaviour 11/2013; 12(6). · 0.75 Impact Factor
  • Yuna L Ferguson, Kennon M Sheldon
    The Journal of Positive Psychology 01/2013; 8(1):23-33. · 1.67 Impact Factor
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    Kennon M Sheldon
    World psychiatry: official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) 06/2012; 11(2):101-2. · 8.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ninety-five freshmen each recruited three peers to play a "group bidding game," an N-person prisoner’s dilemma in which anyone could win movie tickets depending on their scores in the game. Prior to playing, all participants completed a measure of prosocial value orientation. Replicating and extending earlier findings (Sheldon and McGregor 2000), our results show that prosocial participants were at a disadvantage within groups. Despite this vulnerability, prosocial participants did no worse overall than asocial participants because a counteracting group-level advantage arose for prosocials, who tended to be concentrated in groups. Implications of this assortative process for the egoism/altruism debate, and for hierarchical selection theory, are discussed.
    Human Nature 04/2012; 11(4):387-404. · 1.96 Impact Factor
  • Kennon M Sheldon, Sonja Lyubomirsky
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    ABSTRACT: The happiness that comes from a particular success or change in fortune abates with time. The Hedonic Adaptation Prevention (HAP) model specifies two routes by which the well-being gains derived from a positive life change are eroded--the first involving bottom-up processes (i.e., declining positive emotions generated by the positive change) and the second involving top-down processes (i.e., increased aspirations for even more positivity). The model also specifies two moderators that can forestall these processes--continued appreciation of the original life change and continued variety in change-related experiences. The authors formally tested the predictions of the HAP model in a 3-month three-wave longitudinal study of 481 students. Temporal path analyses and moderated regression analyses provided good support for the model. Implications for the stability of well-being, the feasibility of "the pursuit of happiness," and the appeal of overconsumption are discussed.
    Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 02/2012; 38(5):670-80. · 2.22 Impact Factor
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    Kennon M. Sheldon, Alexander Gunz, Todd R. Schachtman
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    ABSTRACT: What does it mean to be in or out of touch with oneself? Using undergraduate samples we tested a new conception and measure of self-congruence, based on the social character that people inhabit in their interpersonal lives. The measure quantifies whether the Big Five traits of a person's typical social character are consistent with the traits of his/her unguarded self. Study 1 (N = 135) showed that the non-discrepant character measure predicted subjective well-being (SWB), independently of the traits (i.e., low neuroticism, high extraversion) comprising the measure. The association with SWB was also independent of Goldman and Kernis's (200215. Goldman , B. M. and Kernis , M. H. 2002 . The role of authenticity in healthy psychological functioning and subjective well-being . Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association , 5 ( 6 ) : 18 – 20 . View all references) Likert-based measure of authenticity. Study 2 (N = 170) replicated these effects and also showed that the new measure was associated with self-concept differentiation (SCD; Donahue, Robins, Roberts, & John, 199310. Donahue , E. M. , Robins , R. W. , Roberts , B. W. and John , O. P. 1993 . The divided self: Concurrent and longitudinal effects of psychological adjustment and social roles on self-concept differentiation . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 64 : 834 – 846 . [CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®], [CSA]View all references) and, in fact, accounted for SCD's effects. Study 2 demonstrated that psychological need-satisfaction mediated the link between having a non-discrepant social character and SWB.
    Self and Identity 01/2012; 11(1):51-70. · 1.42 Impact Factor
  • Kennon M Sheldon, Julia Schüler
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    ABSTRACT: Four studies explored the motivational and experiential dynamics of psychological needs, applying both self-determination theory and motive disposition theory. In all 4 studies, motive dispositions toward achievement and affiliation ("wanting" particular experiences) predicted corresponding feelings of competence and relatedness ("having" those experiences). Competence and relatedness in turn predicted well-being, again indicating that these 2 experiences may really be "needed." Illuminating how wanting gets to having, in Studies 2 and 3, participants reported greater self-concordance for motive-congruent goals, which, in longitudinal Study 3, predicted greater attainment of those goals and thus enhanced well-being. Study 4 replicated selected earlier results using an implicit as well as an explicit motive disposition measure. Supporting the presumed universality of competence and relatedness needs, in no studies did motive dispositions moderate the effects of corresponding need-satisfaction on well-being. Discussion focuses on a "sequential process" model of psychological needs that views needs as both motives that instigate and outcomes that reward behavior.
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 08/2011; 101(5):1106-23. · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • Kennon M Sheldon
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    ABSTRACT: Psychological need theories offer much explanatory potential for behavioral scientists, but there is considerable disagreement and confusion about what needs are and how they work. A 2-process model of psychological needs is outlined, viewing needs as evolved functional systems that provide both (a) innate psychosocial motives that tend to impel adaptive behavior and (b) innate experiential requirements that when met reinforce adaptive behavior and promote mental health. The literature is reviewed to find support for 8 hypotheses derived from this model: that certain basic psychosocial motives are present at birth; that successful enactment of these motives supports the functioning and wellness of all humans; that individual differences in these motives develop in childhood; that these strong motive dispositions tend to produce the satisfying experiences they seek; that motive dispositions do not moderate the effect of motive-corresponding need satisfaction on well-being but do moderate the effect of assigned goal-type on rated self-concordance for those goals; that need dissatisfaction and need satisfaction correspond to the separable behavioral-motive and experiential-reward aspects of needs; and that motives and needs can become decoupled when chronic dissatisfaction of particular requirements warps or depresses the corresponding motives, such that the adaptive process fails in its function. Implications for self-determination theory and motive disposition theory are considered.
    Psychological Review 07/2011; 118(4):552-69. · 9.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Research has shown that both achievement goal theory and self-determination theory (SDT) are quite useful in explaining student motivation and success in academic contexts. However, little is known about how the two theories relate to each other. The current research used SDT as a framework to understand why students enter classes with particular achievement goal profiles, and also, how those profiles may change over time. One hundred and eighty-four undergraduate preservice teachers in a required domain course agreed to participate in the study. Data were collected at three time points during the semester, and both path modelling and multi-level longitudinal modelling techniques were used. Path modelling techniques with 169 students, results indicated that students' autonomy and relatedness need satisfaction in life predict their initial self-determined class motivation, which in turn predicts initial mastery-approach and -avoidance goals. Multi-level longitudinal modelling with 108 students found that perceived teacher autonomy support buffered against the general decline in students' mastery-approach goals over the course of the semester. Data provide a promising integration of SDT and achievement goal theory, posing a host of potentially fruitful future research questions regarding goal adoption and trajectories.
    British Journal of Educational Psychology 06/2011; 81(Pt 2):223-43. · 1.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An 8-month-long experimental study examined the immediate and longer term effects of regularly practicing two assigned positive activities (expressing optimism and gratitude) on well-being. More important, this intervention allowed us to explore the impact of two metafactors that are likely to influence the success of any positive activity: whether one self-selects into the study knowing that it is about increasing happiness and whether one invests effort into the activity over time. Our results indicate that initial self-selection makes a difference, but only in the two positive activity conditions, not the control, and that continued effort also makes a difference, but, again, only in the treatment conditions. We conclude that happiness interventions are more than just placebos, but that they are most successful when participants know about, endorse, and commit to the intervention.
    Emotion 04/2011; 11(2):391-402. · 3.88 Impact Factor
  • Julia K Boehm, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Kennon M Sheldon
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    ABSTRACT: Growing evidence suggests that well-being interventions can be effective. However, it is unclear whether happiness-increasing practices are equally effective for individuals from different cultural backgrounds. To investigate this question, Anglo Americans and predominantly foreign-born Asian Americans were randomly assigned to express optimism, convey gratitude, or list their past experiences (control group). Multilevel analyses indicated that participants in the optimism and gratitude conditions reported enhanced life satisfaction relative to those in the control condition. However, Anglo Americans in the treatment conditions demonstrated larger increases in life satisfaction relative to Asian Americans, while both cultural groups in the control condition showed the least improvement. These results are consistent with the idea that the value individualist cultures place on self-improvement and personal agency bolsters the efforts of Anglo Americans to become more satisfied, whereas collectivist cultures' de-emphasis of self-focus and individual goals interferes with the efforts of Asian Americans to pursue enhanced well-being.
    Cognition and Emotion 02/2011; 25(7):1263-72. · 2.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, the authors tested four cultural models—independence, interdependence, conflict, and integration—that describe the hypothesized relationships between dimensions of self-construal and components of subjective well-being among individualistic and collectivistic countries. Collectivistic countries that have undergone rapid socioeconomic changes (i.e., East Asian countries) and those with limited changes (i.e., African countries) were differentiated. Participants were 791 university students from four Western countries, 749 university students from three East Asian countries, and 443 university students from three African countries. Findings provided some support for the applicability of (a) the independence model to individuals from Western countries and (b) the integration model to individuals from East Asian countries. Mixed results were found among the African countries. The interdependence model is more applicable to African participants from the sub-Saharan region, but the integration model is more applicable to those from the North African region.
    Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 01/2011; 42(5):832-855. · 1.42 Impact Factor
  • Kennon M. Sheldon
    Psychological Inquiry 01/2011; 22(1):52-65. · 6.65 Impact Factor
  • Valery I. Chirkov, Kennon M. Sheldon, Richard M. Ryan
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    ABSTRACT: In this chapter , the editors Chirkov, Sheldon, and Ryan outline in broad strokes both the history and current controversies concerning the main thesis of the book that in order for people to be fully functioning and happy they need to be autonomous, and that this thesis applies universally to people from different cultures. Starting with the Ancient Greece philosophers, followed by the ideas of Christianity and then by insights of Spinoza and Kant, the authors argue that the ideas of personal autonomy and freedom inevitably emerged as soon as the thinkers started discussing the achievement of earthly happiness and the good life. They extend this analysis to the Confucian teaching in Ancient China as well as to the understanding of people’s problems in South Asian countries. They conclude, based on these historical and cross-cultural examinations, that the conditions under which people can experience a good life and a sense of wellness remain the same: Individuals need to have and to exercise autonomy. A review of psychological perspectives on a personal autonomy follows, along with a short review of the chapters comprising this volume.
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    Kennon M Sheldon, Neetu Abad, Christian Hinsch
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    ABSTRACT: Does using Facebook help people to meet their relatedness needs? Study 1 shows that more frequent Facebook usage paradoxically correlates with more relatedness satisfaction (connection) and more relatedness dissatisfaction (disconnection). Study 2 supports a 2-process explanation of this finding, showing that disconnection motivates greater usage as a coping strategy, whereas connection results from greater usage. Study 3 examines the effects of depriving participants of Facebook use for 48 hr. Further supporting the 2-process view, connection decreased, but disconnection was unaffected during the deprivation period; however, those who became more disconnected during the deprivation period engaged in more Facebook use during a 2nd, unconstrained 48-hr period, whereas changes in connection did not predict later use. In Study 4, participants set a Facebook reduction goal; initial disconnection interfered with and predicted worse performance in this goal. Implications for theories of psychological needs, behavioral motives, and adaptive coping are considered.
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 01/2011; 100(4):766-75. · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • Kennon M. Sheldon, Cecilia Cheng, Jonathan Hilpert
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    ABSTRACT: In this article we first describe a broad multilevel framework representing the determinants of human behavior and consider its advantages. Expanding on the upper part of this framework, we then propose the Multilevel Personality in Context (MPIC) model, showing how it integrates and extends past theorizing on the hierarchical organization of personality. The model builds upon McAdams's three-tier (traits, goals, and selves) conception of personality, adding a foundational level (psychological needs) beneath individual differences and incorporating social relations and cultural factors as higher level influences upon behavior and individual differences. New data (N= 3,665 in 21 cultures) are briefly presented showing that culture, self, motive, and trait variables each have independent effects upon subjective well-being (SWB) and showing that psychological need satisfaction (at the foundational level) mediates these effects as predicted. Consistent with McAdams and Pals's (2006)34. McAdams , D. P. and Pals , J. L. 2006 . A new big five: Fundamental principles for an integrative science of personality. . American Psychologist , 61 : 204 – 217 . [CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®]View all references “fifth principle” of personality, culture had top-down effects upon self-level variables and moderated several of the relations to SWB. We conclude by suggesting some general heuristics for designing studies using the MPIC approach.
    Psychological Inquiry 01/2011; 22(1):1-16. · 4.73 Impact Factor
  • Kennon M. Sheldon, Richard M. Ryan
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    ABSTRACT: This chapter discusses both the positive psychology movement (PPM) and self-determination theory (SDT), arguing that SDT is a prototypical example of a positive psychology theory. SDT provides a nuanced, integrated, and scientifically supported framework for understanding optimal functioning, while also addressing “negative” processes that can get in the way of optimal functioning. Two primary prescriptions for positive psychology researchers are derivable from SD: that the autonomy-supportiveness of providers will be crucial for the success of any positive intervention or context, and that the success of positive interventions or contexts can be gauged by how well they meet participants’ needs. Accusations that positive psychology is overly individualist are considered from the lens of SDT, which has already faced and answered such challenges. We suggest that the PPM might adopt SDT as a general framework within which to conduct many types of positive psychology research.
    12/2010: pages 33-44;

Publication Stats

5k Citations
281.33 Total Impact Points


  • 1999–2014
    • University of Missouri
      • • Department of Psychological Sciences
      • • Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology (ESCP)
      Columbia, Missouri, United States
  • 2006–2011
    • University of California, Riverside
      • Department of Psychology
      Riverside, CA, United States
    • University of Leuven
      • Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
      Louvain, Flanders, Belgium
  • 2010
    • The University of Arizona
      • Department of Educational Psychology
      Tucson, AZ, United States
  • 2008
    • University of Illinois at Chicago
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • 2007
    • Columbia College Missouri
      Columbia, South Carolina, United States
  • 2005
    • University of Ottawa
      • School of Psychology
      Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 2001
    • Southern Methodist University
      Dallas, Texas, United States
  • 1995–2001
    • University of Rochester
      • Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology
      Rochester, New York, United States
  • 2000
    • Knox College
      • Psychology
      Galesburg, Illinois, United States