Wellbeing through self-fulfilment : Examining developmental aspects of self-actualization

Ivtzan, Itai, Gardner, Hannah E., Bernard, Izra, Sekhon, Mandeep and Hart, Rona (2013) Wellbeing through self-fulfilment : Examining developmental aspects of self-actualization. The Humanistic Psychologist, 41(2), pp. 119-132. ISSN (print) 0887-3267


Self-actualization is described as an individual’s expression of their full potential and a desire for self-fulfilment. It is the leading need in Maslow’s hierarchical motivation theory (Maslow, 1943) which does not specify an age range for each level, believing that individuals progress through the hierarchy at different rates. However, he recognises older adults are more likely than young adults to be concerned with higher motivation (Maslow, 1970). Previous work has revealed that people over the age of 36 have a tendency to be concerned with higher motives and people under this age with lower motives (Reiss & Havercamp, 2005). This study looks at the influence of age on the level of self-actualization and discovered that on 8 out of the 12 Personal Orientation Inventory (POI) scales, participants over the age of 36 showed higher levels of self-actualization than participants under the age of 36. These results indicate the relevance of developmental issues in this matter and back up the hypothesis that there is a relationship between one’s age and levels of self-actualization. However, results also showed a degree of overlap of self-actualization scores across age groups, suggesting further research may find other important factors, beyond age, which have a relationship with self-actualization.

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