A Dimension of Well-Being

One dimension of psychological well-being is autonomy.  This means a type of independence and self-determination where you are not manipulated by the social pressures of conformity.  This means an ability to think for yourself and do things that are right for you, not all the “shoulds” and “oughts” that we are told to do.  For example, someone high in autonomy is able to resist the social pressure to have a new or “nice” car.  Instead, they might have an old car that meets their transportation needs in order to make money available for the things that are most important to them.  With high autonomy one is their own source of values that guide their actions instead of external forces.  Your own personal standards are your compass.

With low autonomy one is motivated by the fear of what others will think.  Consequently, one automatically seeks to follow the “rules” that are most prevalent, whether or not they fit oneself.  A fear of being judged negatively by others is a strong motivator with low autonomy.  This results in thinking and behaving in ways that are dictated by current social pressures.  For example, if one watches a lot of television they may come to believe one needs to have a certain type of physical attractiveness to have worth as a person.  Not only may they pursue changing their appearance but also feel ashamed or embarrassed by their own natural looks.


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