Kennon Sheldon – What is satisfying about satisfying events?

Sheldon, K.M., Elliot, A.J., Kim, Y., & Kasser, T. (2001). What is satisfying about satisfying events? Testing 10 candidate psychological needs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 325-339.

Kennon Sheldon along with a group of his colleagues ten candidate psychological needs, attempting to figure the ones that are particularly important to human feeling satisfied, complete and content with their lives. The conductors of this research have been baffled and simultaneously, motivated by the fact that there had been numerous attempts to define the fundamental set of psychological that human beings have, nevertheless, the practical value of the construct of needs proposed by the psychologists in the results appeared as limiting. The consensus as to what needs are, in fact, the primary or, at least, central ones was lacking. Therefore, this group of researchers decided to comparatively examine ten different potential human needs that were given to them through the prominent psychological theories, to determine which needs do bring the feeling of satisfaction to an individual once they have been met, and which happen not to satisfy the organismic need, even if they were attained.

The evaluation criterion has been chosen in accordance to the amount of satisfaction that a certain event in life brings, satisfying a particular need. Starting with self-identified satisfying events moving towards the examination of the most salient psychological characteristics within those events, the researchers hoped to gain important, at least, a resemblance of an answer to the questions of fundamental human needs. They refer to their approach as an analysis of natural language, claiming that their methodology is mixed of an idiographic-nomothetic type (Sheldon et al., 2001, p. 326).

Finally, the researchers defined the ten candidate fundamental needs: autonomy, competence, relatedness, physical thriving, security, self-esteem, self-actualization, pleasure-stimulation, money-luxury, and popularity-influence. The thing that I enjoyed about the set of needs that Sheldon and his co-contributors have chosen is that they do not claim that these ten needs capture all potential psychological needs, however, they are inclined to believe that these ten have considerable range of and represent various important theories. The authors, indeed, follow carefully and precisely through every step of their research, properly and ‘to the point’ backing up their arguments, decisions and choices.

Following the requirements, it was decided to concentrate on Study 2 conducted by Sheldon and company, due to the fact that this is the experiment that David Myers mentions in his textbook. In this study, the group of researchers asked the U.S. sample consisting of 152 students in introductory psychology at the University of Missouri and the South Korean sample, consisting of 200 students in introductory psychology at Hanyang University in South Korean, to describe “the most satisfying event of the last week” (Sheldon et al., 2001, p. 327, p. 330). Both American and South Korean universities were large, with more than 15 thousand students. Naturally, researchers had their own predictions about the needs that would appear at the top of the list, believing that autonomy, competence and relatedness being the most important ones. …
Posted by: Ezekiel Heikkinen

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