|Roy F. Baumeister|
Baumeister at the 2011 ZURICH.MINDS
May 16, 1953 |
|Fields||Social psychology, Evolutionary psychology|
|Institutions||University of Queensland
Florida State University
Case Western Reserve University (1979-2003)
|Alma mater||Princeton University
|Known for||Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Self studies.|
|Notable awards||1993-94 James McKeen Cattell Fund Sabbatical Fellowship Award, 2003 ISI highly cited researcher, 2004 Mensa Award for Excellence in Research, 2007 SPSP Distinguished Service Award, 2011 Jack Block Award, 2012 Distinguished Lifetime Career Contribution Award, 2013 William James Fellow Award|
Roy F. Baumeister (born May 16, 1953) is a social psychologist who is known for his work on the self, social rejection, belongingness, sexuality and sex differences, self-control, self-esteem, self-defeating behaviors, motivation, aggression, consciousness, and free will.
Education and academia
Baumeister earned his A.B. from Princeton University and his M.A. from Duke University. He returned to Princeton University with his mentor Edward E. Jones and earned his Ph.D. from the university's Department of Psychology in 1978.
Baumeister then taught at Case Western Reserve University for over two decades. He later worked at Florida State University. In 2016 he moved to the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland in Australia.
Topics of research
Baumeister has conducted research on the self, including various concepts related to how people perceive, act, and relate to their selves. Baumeister wrote a chapter titled, "The Self" in The Handbook of Social Psychology, and reviewed the research on the self-esteem in which he claimed that the importance of self-esteem is overrated.
Irrationality and self-defeating behavior
In a series of journal articles and books, Baumeister inquired about the reasons for self-defeating behavior. His conclusions: there is no self-defeating urge as some have thought. Rather, self-defeating behavior is either a result of trade-offs (enjoying drugs now at the expense of the future), backfiring strategies (eating a snack to reduce stress only to feel more stressed), or the psychological strategy to escape the self – where various self-defeating strategies are rather directed to relieve the burden of selfhood.
The Need to Belong
Baumeister wrote a paper on the need to belong theory with Mark Leary in 1995. This theory seeks to show that humans have a natural need to belong with others. Baumeister and Leary suggest that it is in our nature, as human beings, to push to form relationships. This push is what helps to distinguish it as a need instead of a desire. In addition to the drive for attachment, people also struggle to avoid the disintegration of these relationships. As part of this theory, a lack of belonging would have a long term, negative impact on mood and health, and those who do not meet their belonging needs may suffer from behavioral and psychological issues. Need to belong theory has two necessary parts. The first is that there is frequent contact between the people involved in the attachment that is typically conflict free. Additionally, the notion of an ongoing and continued relationship between them is essential.
This work was groundbreaking in that it separated itself from previous theories relating to attachment such as those by John Bowlby. While Bowlby’s theory implied the attachment needs to be applied to a group leader or authority figure, Baumeister and Leary’s need to belong theory posited that the relationship could be with anyone. To further distinguish the two theories, Baumeister and Leary theorized that if a relationship dissolved, the bond can often be replaced with a bond to another person.
Later, Baumeister published evidence that the way people look for belongingness differs between men and women. Women prefer a few close and intimate relationships, whereas men prefer many but shallower connections. Men realize more of their need to belong via a group of people, or a cause, rather than in close interpersonal relations.
Baumeister also researched self-regulation. He coined the term Ego depletion to describe the evidence that humans' ability to self-regulate is limited, and after using it there is less ability (or energy) to self-regulate. Ego depletion has a general effect, such that exerting self-control in one area will use up energy for further regulation in other areas of life. Further research by Baumeister and colleagues has led to the development of the Strength Model of self-control, which likens this ego depletion to the tiredness that comes from physically exerting a muscle. A corollary to this analogy, supported by his research, is that self-control can be strengthened over time, much like a muscle. The energy used up is more than metaphorical, however; his research has found a strong link between ego depletion and depletion of blood glucose levels. Baumeister also edited two academic books on self-regulation, Losing Control and Handbook of Self-Regulation, and has devoted numerous experiments and journal papers to the topic.
In 2016, a large study carried out at two-dozen labs in countries across the world that sought to reproduce the effects described in these studies was unsuccessful.
Culture and human sexuality
A series of studies of human sexuality has addressed questions such as how nature and culture influence people's sex drive, rape and sexual coercion, the cultural suppression of female sexuality, and how couples negotiate their sexual patterns.
Baumeister approaches the topic of free will from the view-point of evolutionary psychology. He has listed the major aspects that make up free will as self-control, rational, intelligent choice, planful behavior, and autonomous initiative. Baumeister proposes that “the defining thrust of human psychological evolution was selection in favor of cultural capability”  and that these four psychological capabilities evolved to help humans function in the context of culture. On his view, free will is an advanced form of action control that allows humans to act in pro-social ways towards their enlightened self-interest when acting in these ways would otherwise be in conflict with the fulfillment of evolutionarily older drives or instincts. Research by Baumeister and colleagues (principally Kathleen Vohs) has shown that disbelief in free will can lead people to act in ways that are harmful to themselves and society, such as cheating on a test, increased aggression, decreased helpfulness, lower achievement levels in the workplace, and possible barriers to beating addiction.
Baumeister coined the term erotic plasticity, which is the extent to which one’s sex drive can be shaped by cultural, social and situational factors. He argues that women have high plasticity, meaning that their sex drive can more easily change in response to external pressures. On the other hand, men have low plasticity, and therefore have sex drives that are relatively inflexible.
- Rufener, Brenda. "30 MOST INFLUENTIAL COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGISTS ALIVE TODAY". Best Counseling Degrees. Best Counseling Degrees. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
- Baumeister R. (1991) Escaping the Self: Alcoholism, Spirituality, Masochism, and Other Flights from the Burden of Selfhood. Basic Books.
- Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497-529. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497.
- Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York:Basic Books.
- Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Muraven, M., & Tice, D. M. (1998). Ego depletion: Is the active self a limited resource? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(5), 1252-1265.
- Vohs, K., Baumeister, R., Schmeichel, B., Twenge, J., Nelson, N., & Tice, D. (2008). Making choices impairs subsequent self-control: A limited-resource account of decision making, self-regulation, and active initiative. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 94(5), 883-898
- Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., & Tice, D. M. (2007). The strength model of self-control. Current Directions In Psychological Science, 16(6), 351-355
- Gailliot, M., Baumeister, R., DeWall, C., Maner, J., Plant, E., Tice, D., & Schmeichel, B. (2007). Self-control relies on glucose as a limited energy source: Willpower is more than a metaphor. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 92(2), 325-336.
- Engber, Daniel (2016-03-06). "Everything Is Crumbling". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
- Roy Baumeister's Page, Florida State University
- Stillman, T. F., Baumeister, R. F., & Mele, A. R. (2011). Free will in everyday life: Autobiographical accounts of free and unfree actions. Philosophical Psychology, 24(3), 381-394
- Baumeister, R. (2008). Free will in scientific psychology. Perspectives On Psychological Science, 3(1), 14-19.
- Baumeister, R. F., Crescioni, A., & Alquist, J. L. (2011). Free will as advanced action control for human social life and culture. Neuroethics, 4(1), 1-11
- Vohs, K. D., & Schooler, J. W. (2008). The value of believing in free will: Encouraging a belief in determinism increases cheating. Psychological Science, 19(1), 49-54.
- Baumeister, R. F., Masicampo, E. J., & DeWall, C. (2009). Prosocial benefits of feeling free: Disbelief in free will increases aggression and reduces helpfulness. Personality And Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(2), 260-268.
- Stillman, T. F., Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., & Brewer, L. E. (2010). Personal philosophy and personnel achievement: Belief in free will predicts better job performance. Social Psychological And Personality Science, 1(1), 43-50.
- Vohs, K. D., & Baumeister, R. F. (2009). Addiction and free will. Addiction Research & Theory, 17(3), 231-235.
- Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Gender Differences in Erotic Plasticity: The Female Sex Drive as Socially Flexible and Responsive. Psychological Bulletin, 126(3), 347-374
- Baumeister, R. F. (2004). Gender and erotic plasticity: sociocultural influences on the sex drive. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 19(2), 1468-1479