A Pilot Study of Self-Actualization Activity Measurement
Jeevan F. D’Souza, C. Kelly Adams and Brian Fuss
DeVry University, New York, United States
According to Maslow, self-actualization is a vital, evolutionary process through which
an individual aims to realize true potential after satisfying basic needs. Self-actualized
individuals tend to be fullled with their lives and spend signicant amounts of time
with altruistic activities. Self-actualization measurement inventories have traditionally
measured self-actualization values and beliefs. This article outlines the development
of an inventory for measurement of self-actualization activity to determine whether self-
actualizing values materialize into self-actualized actions. A pilot study was conducted
and the results indicate that while an individual may claim to hold self-actualizing beliefs
and feelings, internal principles do not necessarily manifest self-actualizing behavior
in everyday life.
Keywords: Self-actualization Measurement, Spirituality Index, Inventory
© Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology
2015, Vol. 41, No.3 (Special Issue), 28-33.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow, 1943)
is one of the preeminent motivational need
theories. Originally, Maslow classied human
needs into five categories: physiological,
safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-
actualization. Later modications sub-divided
self-actualization into four disparate categories:
cognitive, aesthetic, self-actualization and self-
transcendence (Maslow, 1967; Maslow, 1969;
Maslow, 1970; Huitt, 2007). Physiological,
safety, love and belonging, and esteem needs
were denoted as deciency needs or “D-needs”.
Cognitive, aesthetic, self-actualization and
self-transcendence needs were denoted as
being needs or “B-needs”. Self-actualized
individuals have lower order D-needs generally
satised, striving to satisfy higher order B-needs
(Maslow, 1969). Self-actualization manifests
characteristics like spontaneity, autonomy,
comfort with solitude, non-hostile sense of
humor, fellowship with humanity, and the ability
to have peak experiences (Maslow, 1967). Self-
actualized individuals tend to be spiritual, happy,
and fullled, and concentrate on altruistic tasks
that benet society (Maslow, 1969).
Well-known self-actualization inventories
include the personal orientation inventory (POI)
(Shostrom, 1964), the short-form measure of
self-actualization (Bonjean & Vance, 1968),
the need satisfaction questionnaire (NSQ)
(by Payne, 1970), the self-concept scale (by
Fitts, 1971), the consumer self-actualization
instrument (by Brooker, 1975), the personal
orientation dimensions (POD) (by Shostrom,
Knapp, & Knapp, 1976), the seeking of noetic
goals test (SONG) (by Crumbaugh, 1977),
the short index of self-actualization (SISA) (by
Jones & Crandall, 1986), the brief index of self-
actualization (by Sumerlin, & Bundrick, 1996),
the self-report measure of self-actualization (by
Lefrançois, Leclerc, Dubé, Hébert & Gaulin,
1997), and the measurement of actualization of
potential (MAP) (by Leclerc, Lefrancois, Dube,
Hebert & Gaulin, 1999). These inventories are
typically self-report questionnaires that record
self-actualization values by asking participants
to rate their beliefs based on statements like “I
fear failure”, “I feel I must do what others expect
me to do”, and “I am loved because I give love”
(Jones & Crandall, 1986).
These inventories have been validated or
critiqued by (Robert & Robert, 1967; Damm,
1969; McClain, 1970; Knapp, 1971; Knapp
& Comrey, 1973; Tosi, & Lindamood, 1975;
Crandall & Jones, 1991; Ebersole & Humphreys,
1991; Flett, Blankstein & Hewitt, 1991; Richard &
Jex, 1991; Lefrançois, Leclerc, Dubé, Herbert &
Gaulin, 1998; Cilliers, Koortzen & De Beer, 2004).
The critics question the consistency, complexity,
validity and reliability of previous value-based
Self-Actualization Activity Measurement 29
self-actualization inventories. However, there
has been no attempt to determine if self-
actualized beliefs materialize into self-actualized
behaviors. This article outlines the development
of an inventory called Self-Actualization Activity
Inventory (SAAI) that measures self-actualized
actions and determines if it correlates to self-
actualizing values and beliefs.
Materials and Procedure
When taking the SAAI, the participants were
presented with literature, which denes and
explains D-needs and B-needs as shown in
Tables 1 and 2. The SAAI has 16 questions that
are derived directly from the higher four B-needs
outlined in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The four
B-needs are cognitive needs, aesthetic needs,
self-actualization needs and self-transcendence
needs. The questions in the inventory directly
ask the subject how much time they spend in a
week on activities to satisfy each of these four
needs with four varying levels of intent (100%,
75%, 50% and 25%). Measuring the intent
behind an activity is crucial when evaluating
any self-actualization activity in order to get a
true measure of self-actualization since some
self-actualized activity could be performed due
to work or other obligations. In some cases, an
activity could be performed with the full intent of
satisfying only one need. In other cases, B-Need
Activity Hours (BNAH) is calculated on the basis
of percentage of B-need intent inherent in the
For example, if an individual attends a
classical music concert with the full intent of
Table 1. Explanation and Examples of B-needs
B-Need Explanation Activity Examples
Cognitive Need for knowledge about the
universe, truth, morality, meaning, etc.
Reading a non-fiction book, watching a
documentary lm, conducting research, etc.
Need to appreciate beauty, art, form,
symmetry, universal phenomenon,
Appreciating a waterfall, enjoying a piece of
music, admiring a work of art, honing inner
Self-actualization Need to seek one’s true passion,
potential and purpose in life.
Self-reflection, self-exploration, self-
Need to further a cause beyond the
self and to experience a communion
beyond the boundaries of the self
through peak experiences.
Involvement in political activism, joining a
charitable organization, volunteering in a
soup kitchen, deep meditation, giving up
desires, performing austerities, etc.
Table 2. Explanation and Examples of D-needs
D-Need Explanation Activity Examples
Physiological Need for basic survival Consuming food, wearing clothes, living in a house,
sleeping, taking a shower, etc.
Safety Need to secure employment,
safety, good health, etc.
Going to work, investing in savings, residing in a safe
Need to have friends, colleagues,
family, romantic relationships,
Spending time with family, going to a party or social
event, having sexual intercourse, etc.
Esteem Need to feel appreciated,
validated, respected, etc.
Getting a promotion, acquiring wealth, seeking power
in society, seeking appreciation from another person,
wearing ashy clothing, etc.
30 Jeevan F. D’Souza, C. Kelly Adams & Brian Fuss
fullling only aesthetic B-needs, with no coupled
intent of D-need satisfaction, that activity would
count towards BNAH with 100% intent. On the
other hand, if an individual attends a concert
as part of a romantic date the aesthetic B-need
intent could be at 50% and the romantic D-need
intent could be 50%. In cases where there might
not be a clear estimate of the B-need vs. D-need
intent, individual judgment and honesty must
be exercised. All questions on the inventory are
framed to query the individual on the number
of hours a week spent on a B-need with four
varying levels of intent as shown in Table 3. The
inventory calculates the total number of BNAH
spent per week by an individual, coupling activity
and intent. Individual self-actualization activity
level is then determined using the BNAH score
based on the formula shown below.
+ 1.00*A1 + 0.75*A2 + 0.50*A3 + 0.25*A4
+ 1.00*S1 + 0.75*S2 + 0.50*S3 + 0.25*S4
+ 1.00*T1 + 0.75*T2 + 0.50*T3 + 0.25*T4
C1 represents the hours spent on cognitive
needs with 100% intent. C2 represents hours
spent on cognitive needs with 75% and so on.
A, S and T stand for aesthetic, self-actualization
and self-transcendence needs respectively.
Self-actualization activity levels can then be
determined from the BNAH score. A score of
0-50 indicates low self-actualization activity.
A score of 50-70 indicates moderate self-
actualization activity. A score of 70-90 indicates
high self-actualization activity. A score of 90-105
indicates very high self-actualization activity.
These levels are formulated assuming that
most individuals have approximately 105 activity
hours in a week after satisfying their basic
physiological needs including sleeping, nutrition,
exercise and grooming.
One widely accepted scale for measuring
self-actualization is the short 15-item SISA
index (Jones & Crandall, 1986). The SISA was
developed from the longer personal orientation
inventory (POI) index (Shostrom, 1964) and
designed to provide a shorter, simpler scale
correlated highly to the POI. SISA was chosen
for this research because it is both highly
correlated with POI and has been repeatedly
validated (Richard & Jex, 1991; Flett, Blankstein
& Hewitt, 1991; Ebersole & Humphreys, 1991).
The 15-items included in the SISA are listed in
Table 4. The SISA scale includes 15 statements
that relate to an individual’s beliefs, attitudes,
Table 3. Self-Actualization Activity Inventory (SAAI)
How many hours per week do you spend on cognitive needs with 100% intent? C1
How many hours per week do you spend on cognitive needs with 75% intent? C2
How many hours per week do you spend on cognitive needs with 50% intent? C3
How many hours per week do you spend on cognitive needs with 25% intent? C4
How many hours per week do you spend on aesthetic needs with 100% intent? A1
How many hours per week do you spend on aesthetic needs with 75% intent? A2
How many hours per week do you spend on aesthetic needs with 50% intent? A3
How many hours per week do you spend on aesthetic needs with 25% intent? A4
How many hours per week do you spend on self-actualization needs with 100% intent? S1
How many hours per week do you spend on self-actualization needs with 75% intent? S2
How many hours per week do you spend on self-actualization needs with 50% intent? S3
How many hours per week do you spend on self-actualization needs with 25% intent? S4
How many hours per week do you spend on self-transcendence needs with 100% intent? T1
How many hours per week do you spend on self-transcendence needs with 75% intent? T2
How many hours per week do you spend on self-transcendence needs with 50% intent? T3
How many hours per week do you spend on self-transcendence needs with 25% intent? T4
Self-Actualization Activity Measurement 31
feelings, and emotions. Agreement with items 1,
3, 4, 7, 10, 12 and 15 is considered to manifest
self- actualization. Similarly, disagreement with
the remaining items (2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13 and
14) is considered to manifest self-actualization.
A self-actualizing response from the four
options equates to four points, decreasing to
one point for the non-self-actualizing response.
For example, four points would be scored if the
subject marked “agree” for item 1 and one point
would be scored if “disagree” was marked. The
maximum possible score for the SISA inventory
is 60. An individual scoring higher than 50 on
the SISA is said to manifest self-actualization.
Sixty ve students of DeVry College of New
York were randomly selected for this pilot study.
The participant pool consisted of both males
and females from diverse ethnic and cultural
backgrounds. The participants’ age ranged
from 18 to 50 years. Demographic information
was not cataloged in the study and it was
conducted anonymously. Both the inventories
were administered twice with a 14-day interval
for the sake of reliability testing. Of the 65
participants, 22 participated in a single take and
43 participated in both takes.
For the single take the mean and standard
deviation scores for SAAI were: M=43.73,
SD=27.27. For the double take the mean and
standard deviation scores in the rst take were:
M=29.98, SD=18.26; and in the second take the
scores were: M=32.65, SD=22.21. Cronbach’s
α reliabilities for SAAI were as follows: cognitive
0.76, aesthetic 0.64, self-actualization 0.73,
self-transcendence 0.64, total 0.77. Pearson’s
correlation scores between the two SAAI takes
were: r (42)=0.65, p<0.01.
Table 4. The Short Index of Self Actualization Inventory
Item Agree Somewhat
1) I do not feel ashamed of any of my emotions
2) I feel I must do what others expect me to do
3) I believe that people are essentially good and
can be trusted
4) I feel free to be angry at those I love
5) It is always necessary that others approve of
what I do
6) I don’t accept my own weaknesses
7) I can like people without having to approve of them
8) I fear failure
9) I avoid attempts to analyze and simplify complex
10) It is better to be yourself than to be popular
11) I have no mission in life to which I feel especially
12) I can express my feelings even when they may
result in undesirable consequences
13) I do not feel responsible to help anybody
14) I am bothered by fears of being inadequate
15) I am loved because I give love
32 Jeevan F. D’Souza, C. Kelly Adams & Brian Fuss
For the single take the mean and standard
deviation scores for SISA were: M=41.23,
SD=5.48. For the double take the mean and
standard deviation scores in the rst take were:
M=42.44, SD=4.22 and in the second take the
scores were: M=41.74, SD=3.85. Pearson’s
correlation scores between the two SISA takes
were: r(42)=0.599, p<0.01.
Pearson’s correlation scores between
the two inventories for the single take were:
r(21)=0.242, p=0.29and for the double take
were: r(42)= -0.280, p<0.1; r(42)=0.005, p=0.97.
This article provides an inventory for
measuring self-actualization activity and
correlates it with self-actualizing beliefs.
The proposed inventory has content validity
since the questions are directly related to the
B-needs from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
The results of the pilot study conducted suggest
that the proposed inventory is also consistent
and reliable. However, the SAAI inventory
correlates poorly with the belief-based SISA
inventory indicating that while individuals avow
self-actualizing values and beliefs, their beliefs
may not transfer into actions. Future work
can be carried out on further validation of the
proposed inventory, correlating the inventory
to other subjective well-being inventories, and
investigating the reason for the poor correlation
between self-actualizing values and behavior.
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Jeevan F. DSouza, Ph.D., Professor, School of Engineering and Information Sciences,
DeVry College of New York, 180 Madison Ave, Suite 900 New York, NY 10016.
C. Kelly Adams, Professor, NY, DeVry University, New York, United States.
Brian Fuss, Visiting Professor, NY, DeVry University, New York, United States.