Presenting a positive alternative to strivings for material success and the thin-ideal: Understanding the effects of extrinsic relative to intrinsic goal pursuits.
The question whether materialist strivings buy happiness has received increasing attention by psychologists over the past 15 years. Self-Determination Theory discerns materialist strivings and other extrinsic aspirations such as social status and physical appeal from more organismic and intrinsic strivings such as self-acceptance and emotional intimacy. The articulation of a positive alternative for the pursuit of extrinsic strivings is very much needed, as researchers within the fields of consumer psychology and the body image literature have tended to study extrinsic goals in relative isolation from a more rewarding and growth-promoting alternative. The work reviewed in this chapter suggests the pursuit and promotion of intrinsic, relative to extrinsic, goals yields a host of differential effects, including people’s personal well-being and health, the quality of their social relationships, their ethical functioning, their concern with ecological welfare, and their performance. Moreover, several lines of research begin to show that these conclusions are not only valid for people’s general life aspirations, but also hold when looking at different life domains as diverse as sports and exercising, work, education, and health care.
Vansteenkiste, M., Soenens, B., & Duriez, B. (2008). Presenting a positive alternative to strivings for material success and the thin-ideal: Understanding the effects of extrinsic relative to intrinsic goal pursuits. In S. J. Lopez (Ed.), Positive psychology: Exploring the best in people. Westport, CT: Praeger.