Essentialist and Existentialist: Two Visions of Authenticity

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology


Department of Psychology


Advisor: Jack J. Bauer


The present study aims to examine two conceptions of what it means to live authentically. Research in psychology suggests a divide between essentialist and existentialist perspectives of what it means to be authentic. The present studies find support for this two-factor model of authenticity, with a newly designed measure finding a two-factor structure as well as convergent and discriminant validity. An essentialist perspective of authenticity, or the belief that the "true self" is indelible and must be discovered, is based on different conceptions of the self than an existentialist perspective of authenticity, in which one chooses who they wish to be after critical examination. In previous literature, authenticity has been considered a significant predictor of maturity, prosocial behavior, and well-being. This new measure will help further understanding of how authenticity predicts positive outcomes, and which beliefs promote human flourishing.


Psychology, Social Psychology, Authenticity, Existentialism, Authenticity Scale, Essentialism, Well-Being

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