self-concordance and subjective well-being in four cultures
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JOURNAL Sheldon 10.1177/0022022103262245 et al. OF / SELF-CONCORDANCE CROSS-CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY ACROSS CULTURES ARTICLE SELF-CONCORDANCE AND SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING IN FOUR CULTURES KENNON M. SHELDON University of Missouri–Columbia ANDREW J. ELLIOT RICHARD M. RYAN University of Rochester VALERY CHIRKOV University of Saskatchewan YOUNGMEE KIM American Cancer Society CINDY WU Baylor University MELIKSAH DEMIR Wayne State University ZHIGANG SUN University of Missouri–Columbia Sheldon and colleagues have recently focused research attention on the concept of self-concordance, in which people feel that they pursue their goals because the goals fit with their underlying interests and values rather than because others say they should pursue them. Self-concordant individuals typically evidence higher subjective well-being (SWB). But is this also true in non-Western cultures, which emphasize people’s duty to conform to societal expectations and group-centered norms? To address this question, this study assessed goal self-concordance and SWB in four different cultures. U.S., Chinese, and South Korean samples evidenced equal levels of self-concordance, whereas a Taiwanese sample evidenced somewhat less selfconcordance. More importantly, self-concordance predicted SWB within every culture. It appears that “owning one’s actions”—that is, feeling that one’s goals are consistent with the self—may be important for most if not all humans. Keywords: motivation; goals; well-being; culture Recently, Sheldon and colleagues (Sheldon, 2002; Sheldon & Elliot, 1999; Sheldon & Houser-Marko, 2001) have proposed the idea of self-concordance as a way of conceptualizing optimal goal-striving. Self-concordant individuals are people who pursue life goals with a sense that they express their authentic choices rather than with a sense that they are controlled by external forces over which they have little say. Thus, self-concordant goals are ones that represent people’s actual interests and passions as well as their central values and beliefs. In contrast, nonconcordant goals are ones that are pursued with a sense of “having to,” as the person does not really enjoy or believe in the goals. For example, a student’s goal AUTHORS’NOTE: Correspondence concerning this article may be addressed to: Ken Sheldon, 112 McAlester Hall, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri–Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211. SheldonK@missouri.edu JOURNAL OF CROSS-CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY, Vol. 35 No. 2, March 2004 209-223 DOI: 10.1177/0022022103262245 © 2004 Western Washington University 209
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Magazine: self-concordance and subjective well-being in four cultures