Canadian Positive Psychology Association

Should psychological autonomy and not happiness be the focus of positive psychology? A search for the answer

  • 22 Sep 2014
  • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • Online Webinar

Webinar Topic:
Should psychological autonomy and not happiness be the focus of positive psychology? A search for the answer


Monday, September 22, 2014
1:00 - 2:00 pm, EST

Dr. Valery Chirkov

This presentation will provide an analysis of the role that autonomy plays in facilitating people’s happiness, resilience, wisdom, creativity, personal growth and integrity.  It will be argued that autonomy and not happiness or other outcomes should be the target of positively oriented humanistic psychologists.  A short historical analysis that includes writings of the Greek Stoics philosophers, the Chinese Taoist sages, and works of Baruch Spinoza and Immanuel Kant will identify the roots of modern understanding of the nature of psychological autonomy.  Dr. Chirkov will discuss major components and level of functioning of psychological autonomy and will also hypothesise the psychological mechanisms of its execution. A fundamental component of psychological autonomy is a set of self-generated values, as a person’s life goals, and moral principles, as the ways of actualizing these values. Other constituents of autonomous functioning are person’s feelings and desires as well as demands of the society and culture. To be autonomous a person has to be aware of these components, reflect on them, and then make a decision of how to use them in particular situations.  Thus, mindful awareness, reflections and decision making comprise three levels of autonomous functioning. Dr. Chirkov will also discuss practical application of the proposed approach to help people to reach happiness, acquire resilience and achieve optimal functioning.


More about our webinar speaker:

Dr. Valery Chirkov is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK.  His research interests are related to the topic of psychological autonomy, human agency and self-determined motivation.  Special attention is paid to the role socio-cultural environment plays in facilitating or impeding these capacities in humans.  The most recent publication on this topic is the book chapter: Chirkov, V. (2014). The universality of psychological autonomy across cultures: Arguments from developmental and social psychology. In N. Weinstein (Ed.), Human motivation and interpersonal relationships: Theory, research, and applications. (pp. 27-52). Dordrecht, NL: Springer.  Another topic that currently attracts his attention is the new developments in the philosophy of sciences and their application for social and psychological researcher. Specifically, he is interested in the philosophy of critical realism and its relevance to research on culture, psychology and human motivation.  He is working on the textbook on this topic.


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