Tim Kasser's research while affiliated with Knox College and other places

Publications (96)

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The present study examined how adolescents' materialism relates to interpersonal materialism role models (i.e., mothers', fathers', siblings', and peers'), media exposure, and family socioeconomic status (SES). We obtained our data from the adolescent, his/her mother and father, and one each of his/her siblings and peers. The results showed that mo...
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The aim of the present research was to examine the influence of situational priming of materialistic social models on adolescents’ materialistic and non-materialistic life aspirations. Three experimental studies were conducted on students aged 13-16 years. Each study used a different means of cuing materialism (scrambled sentences, questions concer...
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Given that economic growth is typically associated with ecological destruction and little improvement in human happiness, alternative indicators of progress have been developed to provide decision-makers with additional non-economic information that might better protect the environment and promote human well-being. However, to our knowledge, no exp...
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Healthy democracies require civic engagement (e.g., voting) from their citizens. Past research has suggested that civic engagement is positively associated with self-transcendence values of care and concern for the welfare of others, and negatively associated with self-enhancement values of self interest, dominance and personal success. However, re...
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Studies show that people's proclivity to apologize is positively associated with dispositional guilt and negatively associated with dispositional shame, but apologizing in those studies was assessed via self-report. The current study therefore developed a means of systematically coding participants’ apologizing behavior in a laboratory-based situat...
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Scenario planning and the use of alternative futures have been used successfully to assist organisations, communities and countries to move towards desired outcomes (Dator, 2009). In this study we used a unique combination of scenario planning and a national public opinion survey to explore preferred futures for Australia in 2050. The approach used...
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We investigated factors that promote successfully pursuing collaborative activist pro-environmental goals. Undergraduate students were randomly assigned to undergo a single session of Motivational Interviewing or a directive, control intervention; immediately afterwards, they set two collaborative, activist pro-environmental goals and rated how sel...
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Psychobiography, the intense study of a particular person, has long existed at the fringes of mainstream psychology. This special section is comprised of two articles that take important steps to integrate psychobiography into the mainstream of psychology. Schultz and Lawrence (2017) do so by reviewing recent examples of how contemporary psychobiog...
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The idea that human well-being (WB) can be supported and even enhanced by using, producing, buying, selling and consuming less ‘stuff’ is anathema to many living under consumer capitalism. Yet a growing research literature actually finds that frequent engagement in pro-ecological behaviours (PEBs) is positively correlated with personal WB. This pap...
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Individual differences that might moderate processes of value shifting during and after deliberating one's own death remain largely unexplored. Two studies measured participants' openness and relative intrinsic to extrinsic value orientation (RIEVO) before randomly assigning them to conditions in which they wrote about their own death or dental pai...
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Research on materialism has burgeoned in the last two decades, yet little is known about how people higher versus lower in this consumer values orientation differ in their day-to-day spending habits and in their emotional reactions to spending on purchases. The present study used an event-sampling method over a 3-week period to address these questi...
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Societies, like individuals, can get trapped in patterns of behavior called social traps or “societal addictions” that provide short-term rewards but are detrimental and unsustainable in the long run. Examples include our societal addiction to inequitable over-consumption fueled by fossil energy and a “growth at all costs” economic model. This pape...
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Bronfenbrenner's ecological model of development suggests that children are affected by the economic system under which they live. Corporate capitalism is one such economic system, and evidence suggests that the focus on profit and power characteristic of deregulated, competitive forms of capitalism can suppress how much citizens prioritize the val...
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Materialism comprises a set of values and goals focused on wealth, possessions, image, and status. These aims are a fundamental aspect of the human value/goal system, standing in relative conflict with aims concerning the well-being of others, as well as one's own personal and spiritual growth. Substantial evidence shows that people who place a rel...
Chapter
Extrinsic goals and values become prominent when people "buy into" the messages of consumer culture and organize their lives around the pursuit of money, possessions, image, and status. Intrinsic goals and values involve striving for personal growth, intimacy, and contribution to the community. This chapter demonstrates that a large and growing bod...
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This meta-analysis investigates the relationship between individuals' materialistic orientation and their personal well-being. Theoretical approaches in psychology agree that prioritizing money and associated aims is negatively associated with individuals' well-being but differ in their implications for whether this is invariably the case. To addre...
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In this article, I review how people organize values and goals in their minds and I suggest teaching demonstrations, exercises, and assignments to help students learn this material. I pay special attention to circumplex models, which represent the extent of conflict or compatibility between values and goals, and to the well-researched distinction b...
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Past research demonstrates that happiness is higher to the extent people prioritize intrinsic goals (for self-acceptance, affiliation, and community feeling) over extrinsic goals (for financial success, popularity, and image). Because most of the research on personal goals and wellbeing has been conducted in economically-developed nations, we colle...
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Few studies have examined how changes in materialism relate to changes in well-being; fewer have experimentally manipulated materialism to change well-being. Studies 1, 2, and 3 examined how changes in materialistic aspirations related to changes in well-being, using varying time frames (12 years, 2 years, and 6 months), samples (US young adults an...
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Based on principles of terror management theory, the authors hypothesized that participants would distance more from a target person with terminal cancer than from a target with arthritis, and that this effect would be stronger following mortality salience. In Study 1, adults rated how similar their personalities were to a target person; in Study 2...
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We examined whether culture-level indices of threat, instability, and materialistic modeling were linked to the materialistic values of American 12th graders between 1976 and 2007 (N = 355,296). Youth materialism (such as the importance of money and of owning expensive material items) increased over the generations, peaking in the late 1980s to ear...
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Neuroticism is associated with ineffective coping strategies and experiencing substantial negative affect, but prior research has not examined whether teaching problem-solving skills can help neurotic individuals improve their emotional experience. 214 college students were screened for neuroticism and 30 participants who scored in the top two deci...
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As positive psychology continues to make progress in both the articulation and (hopefully) the eventual actualization of its vision of a good life, the author believes that it is crucially important to recognize that an opposing, better publicized vision of the good life is vying for space in people's minds. More specifically, every day and in many...
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Contemporary forms of consumer capitalism encourage people to prioritize materialistic values, an orientation associated with lower personal well-being. Such materialistic values stand in contrast to the economic attitude of thrift, which encourages saving, self-sufficiency, reuse of goods, and avoiding debt. This article reviews the existing empir...
Chapter
The means by which a culture organizes itself economically has important implications for people’s experience of autonomy. Despite claims that freedom is maximized under the form of neo-liberal, laissez-fair capitalism practiced in many Anglo-nations, several types of evidence suggest that the values, ideologies, and institutions of such economic s...
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Longitudinal pathways between maternal mental health in infancy and offspring romantic relationship outcomes in adulthood were examined using a 30-year prospective longitudinal study of 196 mothers and their children. Structural equation modeling revealed that maternal mental health at 30 months was related to offspring relationship status and rela...
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Extrinsic values for money, image, and status are known to be as-sociated with less sustainable ecological attitudes and to be relatively high among American citizens. But America also has a long history of prioritizing the intrinsic values of self-expression, family, and helping the world to be a better place, aims which past studies show promote...
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Cultural values may influence the extent to which nations care about the well-being of current and future generations of children. The author used archival data to examine this possibility in a sample of 20 wealthy nations. As predicted, after controlling for national wealth, a general pattern was evident such that the more a nation prioritized Ega...
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Educational attainment and occupational status are key markers of success in adulthood. We expand upon previous research that focused primarily on the contributions of academic competence and family socioeconomic status (SES) by investigating the role of mental health in predicting adult SES. In a longitudinal study spanning 30 years, we used struc...
Chapter
Earth’s ecology faces significant challenges, including climate disruption, pollution, and habitat loss. Substantial research suggests that these challenges are exacerbated by humans’ strong desires for money, wealth, possessions, image, and status. I therefore present an empirically-based, two-pronged approach to decrease how much people and socie...
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Past research shows that higher well-being is reported by adolescents who live in individualistic rather than collectivistic nations. Such cross-national differences may be due to the amount of autonomy support adolescents receive from authority figures. To examine this hypothesis, in the current study, 322 adolescents from Denmark, South Korea, an...
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This paper examines the measurement of childhood materialism using Schor's (2004) Consumer Involvement Scale. Schor treated consumer involvement empirically as a unidimensional construct, though she suggested that conceptually it may be multidimensional. Using confirmatory factor analysis procedures on data collected from children in the U.S. and U...
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This article presents a need-based theory to explore the potential compatibility of ecological sustainability and personal well-being. Relevant theoretical and empirical evidence is reviewed to demonstrate how ecological degradation can interfere with the satisfaction of needs for safety/security, competence, relatedness, and autonomy, thus causing...
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Do activists lead happier and more fulfilled lives than the average person? Two online surveys using a sample of college students (N = 341) and a national sample of activists matched with a control group (N = 718) demonstrated that several indicators of activism were positively associated with measures of hedonic, eudaimonic, and social well-being....
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a b s t r a c t Research has associated financial desire discrepancies (the gap between current and desired states) with poorer subjective well-being (SWB). Because acquiring more wealth appears ineffective in decreasing financial desire discrepancies, we examined whether a theoretically meaningful psychological factor, termed mindfulness, would cl...
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Many business practices focus on maximizing material affluence, or wealth, despite the fact that a growing empirical literature casts doubt on whether money can buy happiness. We therefore propose that businesses consider the possibility of “time affluence” as an alternative model for improving employee well-being and ethical business practice. Acr...
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Caring for a spouse with cancer can be challenging on many levels. How caregivers adjust to this challenge may be influenced both by their personal orientation to the relationship and by their motives for providing care. In this study we examined the prediction of caregiver well-being from the relationship qualities specified by attachment theory a...
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Although people generally endorse intrinsic goals for growth, intimacy, and community more than extrinsic goals for money, appearance, and popularity, people sometimes over-emphasize extrinsic goals, to the potential detriment of their well-being. When and why does this occur? Results from three experimental studies show that psychological threat i...
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Psychology rarely examines the effects of economic systems on people's lives. In this target article, we set out to explore some of the costs of American corporate capitalism and its focus on self-interest, competition, hierarchical wage labor, and strong desires for financial profit and economic growth. Specifically, we apply recent cross-cultural...
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We tested whether interacting with a gun increased testosterone levels and later aggressive behavior. Thirty male college students provided a saliva sample (for testosterone assay), interacted with either a gun or a children's toy for 15 min, and then provided another saliva sample. Next, subjects added as much hot sauce as they wanted to a cup of...
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Research and theory on employee job satisfaction and well-being has increasingly concentrated on both intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors. According to self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985). autonomy, relatedness, and competence are three intrinsic psychological needs that, if fulfilled in the workplace, will lead to greater satisf...
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We found that parents of college students report greater goal-autonomy than their children, consistent with organismic, humanistic, and trait perspectives upon positive aging. Parents also had higher levels of positive affect and lower levels of negative affect than their children. In a second, retrospective test of the age-to-autonomy relationship...
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The authors investigated the structure of goal contents in a group of 1,854 undergraduates from 15 cultures around the world. Results suggested that the 11 types of goals the authors assessed were consistently organized in a circumplex fashion across the 15 cultures. The circumplex was well described by positioning 2 primary dimensions underlying t...
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Happiness and ecological well-being are often portrayed as conflictual pursuits, but they may actually be complementary. In samples of adolescents (Study 1) and adults (Study 2), we tested this proposition and examined the role of three factors in promoting both subjective well-being (SWB) and ecologically responsible behavior (ERB). In both studie...
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Many of the messages conveyed and laws created by capitalistic, consumer culture encourage the pursuit of goals for wealth, image and status. Sub-stantial research shows, however, that when individuals focus on such "ex-trinsic" goals, they report lower personal well-being and engage in more problematic social and ecological behaviour than when the...
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Existential, psychosocial, and organismic theories propose that human beings tend towards greater autonomy over the lifespan, and that greater autonomy is associated with greater happiness. We tested these two ideas in the under-studied domain of social duties by examining the associations between chronological age, felt autonomy while engaging in...
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This study examined the effectiveness of different types of art activities in the reduction of anxiety. After undergoing a brief anxiety-induction, 84 undergraduate students were randomly assigned to color a mandala, to color a plaid form, or to color on a blank piece of paper. Results demonstrated that anxiety levels declined approximately the sam...
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We respond to commentaries by Maheswaran and Agrawal (2004) and Rindfleisch and Burroughs (2004) on the application of terror management theory to understanding conspicuous consumption and consumer behavior. Specifically, we consider individual differences in terror management research; the possibility of cultural variation (or lack thereof) in ter...
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This article presents terror management theory (TMT) as a way to understand how the human awareness of death affects materialism, conspicuous consumption, and consumer decisions. The pursuit of wealth and culturally desired commodities are hypothesized to reinforce those beliefs that function to protect people from existential anxieties. Following...
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The assertion that both the content of goals and the motives behind goals affect psychological well-being has been controversial. Three studies examined this issue directly, showing that both what goals people pursue (i.e., whether they strive for extrinsic vs. intrinsic goal contents) and why people pursue them (i.e., whether they strive for auton...
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In this chapter, the authors refer to the culture of consumption's constellation of aims, beliefs, goals, and behaviors as a materialistic value orientation (MVO). From their perspective, an MVO involves the belief that it is important to pursue the culturally sanctioned goals of attaining, financial success, having nice possessions, having the rig...
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Few public opinion polls exist concerning the burgeoning youth marketing industry. We therefore conducted an online survey of 978 U. S. residents in the Spring of 2004. Results suggest that a large majority of respondents believe: a) that the youth marketing industry is harmful to children and has questionable ethical practices; b) that the industr...
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The authors examined the similarities and differences between 3 dimensions that represent people's focus on self vs. other: individualistic vs. collectivistic nations, independent vs. interdependent self-concepts, and intrinsic vs. extrinsic aspirations. In samples of South Korean and U.S. college students, the authors found that each of these dime...
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Archival longitudinal data were used to examine relations of childhood environmental factors with adult values. Parental style and family socioeconomic status (SES) were assessed when participants were 5 years old. At age 31, participants completed the Rokeach Value Survey. Results indicated that adults focused on conformity values were more likely...
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We hypothesized that semester goal attainment provides a route to short-term psychological growth. In an attempt to enhance this process, we randomly assigned participants to either a goal-training program or to a control condition. Although there were no main effects of program participation on later goal attainment, important interactions were fo...
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Despite the importance of Christmas within many cultures, researchhas not examined the types of experiences and activities that are associated withholiday well-being. Thus, we asked 117 individuals, ranging in age from 18 to 80,to answer questions about their satisfaction, stress, and emotional state during theChristmas season, as well as questions...
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We explored whether values focused on money, image, and popularity are associated with lowered well-being, even in environmental circumstances supportive of such values. To this end, we administered three widely used measures of a materialistic value orientation to 92 business students in Singapore. As expected, those students who had strongly inte...
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Although some have suggested that humanistic theories and quantitative methodologies are inherently contradictory, this article will try to demonstrate that they can be quite complementary. To this end, the authors will review their own findings with regard to the nature of “positive motivation,” research that has been based in humanistic theoretic...
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Measures of psychological maturity based on personal strivings (R. A. Emmons, 1989) were administered to 108 adults aged 17-82. On the basis of organismic-theoretical assumptions regarding maturity, age was hypothesized to be positively associated with K. M. Sheldon and T. Kasser's (1995, 1998) two goal-based measures of personality integration. E....
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Three studies compared 10 candidate psychological needs in an attempt to determine which are truly most fundamental for humans. Participants described "most satisfying events" within their lives and then rated the salience of each of the 10 candidate needs within these events. Supporting self-determination theory postulates (Ryan & Deci, 2000)--aut...
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Dreams were analyzed to examine some of the intrapsychic dynamics that past research has suggested relate to materialistic tendencies [J. Personality Social Psychol. 63 (1993) 410; Personality Social Psychol. Bull. 22 (1996) 280]. The “most meaningful or impactful” dreams of people high in materialism showed more insecurity themes (e.g., falling, d...
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The authors propose that a full understanding of the relationship between optimal functioning and personal goals depends on understanding how goals relate to basic psychological needs. Results from two samples of US college students show that well-being outcomes are differentially associated with a focus on extrinsic aspirations (financial success,...
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Comments on H. H. Kendler's (see record 1999-11644-004) article on the role of value in the world of psychology. The authors criticize some of the positions that seem problematic for the future of psychology and that seem to have overlooked similar inquiries that have appeared in the American Psychologist in the past 30 yrs. They also suggest an al...
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Self-reported emotional experiences and eating behaviors were studied in college students in an attempt to determine what types of emotional experiences precede and follow binge eating and how specific types of compensatory behaviors modify these experiences. First-year male and female students (N=390) were surveyed for depression, anxiety, health...
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Theoretical work suggests that feelings of insecurity produce materialistic behavior, but most empirical evidence is correlational in nature. We therefore experimentally activated feelings of insecurity by having some subjects write short essays about death (mortality-salience condition). In Study 1, subjects in the mortality-salience condition, co...
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Aspirations for intrinsic (e.g.,self-acceptance, affiliation, community feeling)versus extrinsic (e.g., financial success, appearance,social recognition) goals were examined in German andU.S. college students. The structure of studentsgoal-systems in terms of goal content was remarkablysimilar in the two cultures, as evidenced byexamination of the...
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American culture and theories of well-being have each proposed two diverging paths to happiness: one based on obtaining rewards such as fame, attractiveness, and wealth, and the other based on striving for intimacy, personal growth, and contribution to the community. Accordingly, Kasser and Ryan (1993, 1996, in press)suggested that people’s persona...
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Females' preference for resource-acquisition characteristics in mates has been explained as an evolved psychological mechanism that conveyed reproductive advantage to human ancestors. To explore the hypothesis that females express this preference more strongly when their educational opportunities and reproductive freedom are limited, we reanalyzed...
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We assessed 28 college students' attitudes toward homosexuals immediately before and 1 week after the presentation of either an article suggesting that male homosexuality has a biological component or a control article. Change in attitude toward homosexuality for subjects exposed to the biological article depended on subjects' memory of the article...
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Although goal theorists have speculated about the causes and consequences of making progress at personal goals, little longitudinal research has examined these issues. In the current prospective study, participants with stronger social and self-regulatory skills made more progress in their goals over the course of a semester. In turn, goal progress...
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The relationship between the content of goals and well-being depends both on whether goals are congruent with inner psychological needs (Kasser & Ryan, 1993, 1996a) and whether goals are supported in one's environment. The current study examines how the pursuit of 6 different goals relates to the psychological well-being of maximum security prisone...
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Empirical research and organismic theories suggest that lower well-being is associated with having extrinsic goals focused on rewards or praise relatively central to one's personality in comparison to intrinsic goals congruent with inherent growth tendencies. In a sample of adult subjects (Study 1), the relative importance and efficacy of extrinsic...
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distinguishing among intentional acts: the "why" of behavior [intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, internalization and integration, the consequences of different regulatory styles, the social context and motivational orientations] / the "what" of goals: considering content [goal content and mental health, why do some people focus on extrinsic goals,...
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Organismic theories and recent research suggest that environments that do not support growth and self-expression are associated with valuing financial success relatively more than affiliation, community feeling, and self-acceptance. This prediction was investigated in a heterogenous sample of 18-yr-olds using a variety of methods and informants. Te...
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Coherence and congruence-based measures of personality integration were related to a variety of healthy personality characteristics. Functional coherence was defined as occurring when participants' "personal strivings" (R.A. Emmons, 1986) help bring about each other or help bring about higher level goals. Organismic congruence was defined as occurr...
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Aspiring for financial success is an important aspect of capitalist cultures. Three studies examine the hypothesis that values and expectancies for wealth and money are negatively associated with adjustment and well-being when they are more central to an individual than other self-relevant values and expectancies. Studies 1 and 2 use 2 methods to s...
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Since valuing is a process grounded in the organizational tendency of human behavior, the characteristics of a highly valued object should reflect the experience of the individual who selects it. This research compared the favorite songs of fourteen individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia to their inner experience as assessed in a standard intervi...
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Examined both employee and supervisor reports of motivational and work adjustment variables, in the context of a psychiatric rehabilitation program, as correlates of program participation and independent ratings of readiness for competitive employment. Ss were 80 employees (aged 21–75 yrs) in a sheltered workshop and transitional employment program...
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Given that humanity's ability to adapt physically will depend in part on how well people adapt psychologically, this paper considers how humans might adjust to or cope with the threat associated with a world under a radically transformed climate. We intend our argument to apply to developed countries only. Generally speaking, a threat is an anticip...