Presentation on theme: "Sustainability and the good society: Research on psychological needs Seminar on Global Sustainable Development Elsinore, Denmark, March 6-8, 2013 Ib Ravn,"— Presentation transcript:
Sustainability and the good society: Research on psychological needs Seminar on Global Sustainable Development Elsinore, Denmark, March 6-8, 2013 Ib Ravn, Ph.D., Associate Professor The Research Program on Organization and Learning Aarhus University, Campus Emdrup. edu.au.dk/fv
2 1. Sustainability and the good society Sustainability: balance in our consumption of physical resources. But people’s personal, social & political lives: endless improve- ment (more justice, more democracy, etc.) (Bjerre, 1988). ”Sustainability”: suitable concept – and a legitimate object of research today. We need such a concept for research and development of humanity’s psychological, social and political prospects. We’re talking about a still better life for all, in a still better society. How to conceptualize that?
3 2. ”Oprør fra midten” (1978): Villy Sørensen’s proposed psychology of needs Distinction: our insatiable desires vs. our natural needs ”… design society’s institutions such that human needs are met…” (p. 77, OfM) → a better life in a better society What are these needs? Fairly solid knowledge about physiological needs (nutrition, hygiene, contagious disease, exercise) Until the 1970’s very little research on psycho-social needs
4 3. Self-Determination Theory (SDT) Edward L. Deci, University of Rochester, 1970’s: Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic rewards tend to inhibit subjects’ interest and intrinsic motivation (contra Skinner) With Richard M. Ryan from 1980’s: Motivational psychology → psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness (Deci & Ryan, 2002) >500 research publications from scores of researchers in 13 languages. Overview and intro: Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, vol. 55, pp
5 4. SDT’s three needs 1.Autonomy: Author in your own life. The self as a source of action. Sense of volition 2.Competence: We can effect outcomes in the world 3.Relatedness: Need to receive and show care. Intimacy and com- munity. Be a part of a larger social whole. The needs are hypothesized to reflect our human nature. They can be met in culturally diverse ways. Much research points to their universality. (Chirkov et al. (eds): Human Autonomy in Cross-Cultural Context, Springer, 2011) Nothing sacred about three needs. Occam!
6 5. Need support – personal and societal The needs may be supported – for better satisfaction. Cf. OfM: ”..design society’s institutions such that human needs are met…” Autonomy supports: See the other’s perspective. Acknowledge feelings. Avoid controlling language. Give rationale. Provide choice. Competence supports: Provide structure. Give informational feedback (vs. neg. criticism). Support self-initiated actions (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Support can be provided by persons, groups, institutions, norms, laws. SDT research investigates one type of support after the other: What results in better psycho-social function? (depression, anxiety, quality of life, sociality, vitality) (as measured by standard psychometric instru- ments: survey, experience sampling, interview) (Vansteenkiste, 2010). Typical finding: Those who meet the three needs
7 6. What goals do we pursue: Intrinsic or extrinsic Traditional ”goal theory”: If the goals you pursue in life fit your context, good psycho-social function is produced – regardless of the goals (e.g., Business school goals fit MBA students). ‘All goals are created equal’ SDT: No. Different types of goal yield different outcomes: ”Extrinsic goals”: wealth, fame and image (eco-warning!). Pursuit of them correlates negatively with good psycho-social function (also in B-sch’l) ”Intrinsic goals”: relationships, community, health, personal growth: they correlate positively (Vansteenkiste et al., 2006). Autonomy mediates: Extrinsic goals provide poor satisfaction of the need for autonomy – that’s why they produce poor psycho-social function (Kasser & Ryan, 1996)
8 7. The SDT needs in society The goals and norms suggested by society’s various institutions can be assessed through research: Do they support human needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness? Advertising: ”freedom to shop” or mind control? Private cars: mobility autonomy or financial dependency and rush-hour unfreedom? Manufacturing: What do products give – image or community? 50-hour work weeks: money, image (status)? Taxes: Do they really inhibit personal initiative? (comp., aut.) TV entertainment: relatedness or loneliness? Facebook: social network or depression?
9 8. Doing research on a still better society Perhaps the good society can be estimated by the degree to which these three needs are met (and new undiscovered needs)(Deci & Ryan,2012) Social research that attempts to find still better supports for needs may help move towards a better society (Bjerre, 1972; Ravn, 2006, 2008). This may relieve us somewhat from ideological ignorance, just as… - basic nutrition, surgery and infant care are now on okay scientific footing - organic agriculture and climate research are still struggling - economics, sociology and political science have barely started Sustainability: a useful paradigm for our balance with external nature. A psychology of researchable human needs (like SDT): a useful research program for exploring how the human psyche may flourish and develop infinitely within the bounds of limited physical nature.
10 9. Litteratur Bjerre, Poul (1988). Opbrud. Utopisk humanisme. Gyldendal. Bjerre, Poul (1972). Videnskabens natur. Gyldendal. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R.M. (2000). The ‘what’ and ‘why’ of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4): Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (eds.)(2002). Handbook of self-determination research. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Motivation, personality, and development within embedded social contexts: An overview of self-determination theory. In R. M. Ryan (ed.), Oxford handbook of human motivation (pp ). Oxford, UK: OUP.
Litteratur (fortsat) Kasser, T., & Ryan, R.M. (1996). Further examining the american dream: Differential correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22: Meyer, N.I., Petersen, K.H. & Sørensen, S. (1978). Oprør fra midten. Gyldendal. Ravn, Ib (2006). Forskning i sammenhænge. Hvordan natur- og samfundsvidenskaberne kunne bidrage mere til udvikling af liv og samfund. Multivers. Ravn, Ib (2010). Transformativ forskningsmetode – belyst gennem et projekt om mødefacilitering. Tidsskrift for Arbejdsliv, 12(1):
Litteratur (fortsat) Shah, H., & Marks, N. (2004): A manifesto for a flourishing society. London: New Economics Foundation. Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., & Deci, E. L. (2006). Intrinsic versus extrinsic goal contents in self-determination theory: Another look at the quality of academic motivation. Educational Psychologist, 41: Vansteenkiste, M., Niemiec, C. P., & Soenens, B. (2010). The development of the five mini-theories of self-determination theory: An historical overview, emerging trends, and future directions. In T. C. Urdan & S. A. Karabenick (eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement, v. 16A—The decade ahead: Theoretical perspectives on motivation and achievement (pp ). London: Emerald.