Bridget P. Lynch



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This research explores the relationship between self-enhancement motivation (i.e., the motive to have and maintain positive feelings about the self) and autonomy (i.e., the motive to feel in charge of one's own life). Extensive research has shown that all people are motivated to feel positively about the self. However, a small set of studies have noted that people who feel in charge of their lives and decisions (i.e., high in autonomy) do not appear to meet the need to feel good about the self in the same way as their peers. In Study 1, 150 participants completed a series of self-report measures to assess recently identified self-enhancement strategies and levels of autonomy. Study 1 will identify which types of self-enhancement are consistent with varying levels of autonomy. Using the results from Study 1, Study 2 will experimentally examine the relationship between self-enhancement and levels of autonomy by manipulating the type of self-enhancement task that 150 participants will engage in. After the manipulation participants' well-being will be measured. Data from both studies will be analyzed using multiple regression. It is expected that people will have greater psychological well-being when they self-enhance in a way consistent with their levels of autonomy. This research will either provide support for the universality of self-enhancement by identifying the strategy autonomous individuals use to self-enhance or may contradict the idea that everyone is motivated to meet the need to feel good about the self.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Erin O'Mara

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium poster

Do Autonomous Individuals Strive for Self-Positivity? A Test of the Universal Nature of Self-Enhancement