The Undesired Self

Topics: Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Personality psychology Pages: 8 (2478 words) Published: December 11, 2012
Does the discrepancy between actual, undesired and desired self effect life satisfaction?

Betty Li Wahlborg

University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana

Author Note

This paper was prepared for Psychology 350 taught by Chris Fraley and T.A. Emily Kim

Daniel M. Ogilvie writes, “Personality theorists have given a great deal of attention to the relationship between the real self (otherwise known as actual self) and the ideal self with the implication that they are contrasting entities.” The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between discrepancies in the three selves(actual, undesired ought) and the level of satisfaction with life. The study is based on Daniel M. Ogilvie’s study of “ The Undesired Self: A Neglected Variable in Personality Research.”

The purpose of this experiment was to deduce whether or not the discrepancies between actual self and undesired self and ought self in each of the Big Five Traits (Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness) had any implications with an individual’s life satisfaction. The actual self are people’s personality with respect to the Big Five Traits. The undesired self is the way they do not want to be, and the ought self is the way other people (e.g. parents, teachers, friends) think they should be. This study attempts to dissect the discrepancies between the actual self, undesired self and ought self to determine whether or not they have any implications on life satisfaction.

Ogilvie’s study found that “satisfaction is more a function of becoming like their ideal selves than it is a function of becoming their undesired selves.” METHOD
A questionnaire containing four sections was developed to gather data. The first section, Actual Self consisted of 43 questions; subjects were instructed to rate their personalities with respect to the Big Five Traits. The second section, Undesired Self also consisted 43. These questions were repeat characteristics (with different wording of the questions) of the first section, but in the second section, subjects were instructed to their undesired self-the way they do not want to be with respect to the those traits. The third section, Ought Self (desired self), also repeat of the 43 characteristics with different wording of the questions. However in the third section, subjects were instructed to rate the way other people (e.g. parents, friends, family, teachers) think they should be. And finally the fourth section consisted 5 questions that was a measure of life satisfaction. In total, the questionnaire consisted of 134 questions. The answer for the first three questions ranged from “strongly disagree” “disagree” “agree” and “strongly agree”. The subjects who participated in the study were friends, classmates and family. However, generally speaking, most of the subjects were college age students. Once the data was collected, it was imported to SPSS where invalid data was cleaned out. Analysis of descriptive statistics, correlations and scatterplots were performed in order to understand the results.

The composite scores of the 5 Big Traits (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness) in accordance to actual, undesired and ought self were calculated. The following are the composite scores: first, Extraversion _Actual= 2.61, Extraversion_Undesired=2.16, Extraversion _Ought=3.06. Second, Agreeableness_Actual=3.02, Agreeableness_Undesired=1.95, Agreeableness_Ought=3.44. Third, Conscientiousness_Actual=2.84, Conscientiousness_Undesired=1.84, Conscientiousness_Ought=3.70. Fourth, Neuroticism_Actual= 2.4, Neuroticism_Undesired=3.26, Neuroticism_Ought=1.36. Finally, Openness_Actual=2.80, Openness_Undesired=2.16, Openness_Ought=3.26

Another calculation that was made was the composite difference in the Big Five Characteristics in the three selves (actual, undesired and desired). The difference between extraversion actual self and...
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