|Roy F. Baumeister|
May 16, 1953 |
|Fields||Social psychology, Evolutionary psychology|
|Institutions||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 Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. He 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. He has authored 500 publications and has written, co-written, or edited almost 30 books. He earned his A.B. summa cum laude ("with highest honor") 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. He then taught at Case Western Reserve University for over two decades before transferring to Florida State. He is a fellow of both the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and the Association for Psychological Science. Baumeister was named an ISI highly cited researcher in 2003.
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.
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.
Baumeister has written or edited some 20 books. The following is a partial listing of his works.
- Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength with John Tierney, 2011. ISBN 978-1-59420-307-7
- Is There Anything Good About Men?: How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men, 2010. ISBN 978-0-19-537410-0
(note that some books here are readable for the non academic, but the main audience in mind is academic)
- Your Own Worst Enemy: Understanding the Paradox of Self-Defeating Behavior
- Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty
- Social Psychology and Human Nature
- Losing Control: How and Why People Fail at Self-Regulation
- The Social Dimension of Sex
- Breaking Hearts: The Two Sides of Unrequited Love. New York: Guilford Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0-89862-152-5
- Masochism and the Self
- Identity: Cultural Change and the Struggle for Self
- Escaping the Self: Alcoholism, Spirituality, Masochism, and Other Flights from the Burden of Selfhood
- Meanings of Life. New York: Guilford Press, 1992. ISBN 978-0-89862-531-8
- The Cultural Animal: Human Nature, Meaning, and Social Life
- Self in Social Psychology: Key Readings (Key Readings in Social Psychology)
- Encyclopedia of Social Psychology (2 Volume Set)
- Social Psychology and Human Sexuality: Key Readings (Key Readings in Social Psychology)
- Self-Esteem: The Puzzle of Low Self-Regard (The Plenum Series in Social/Clinical Psychology) (Hardcover)
- Public Self and Private Self (Springer Series in Social Psychology)
- Handbook of Self-Regulation, Second Edition: Research, Theory, and Applications. New York: Guilford Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-60623-948-3
- Free Will and Consciousness: How Might They Work?
- Advanced Social Psychology: The State of the Science
second or third co-editor in scientific collections:
- Psychology of Self-Regulation: Cognitive, Affective, and Motivational Processes (Sydney Symposium in Social Psychology)
- Human Sexuality: Meeting Your Basic Needs
- Do Emotions Help or Hurt Decision Making?: A Hedgefoxian Perspective
- Time and Decision: Economic and Psychological Perspectives on Intertemporal Choice
- Are We Free? Psychology and Free Will
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Roy Baumeister's Page at Florida State University
- The Psychology Department Florida State University
- Lab Website
- Social Psychology Network Professional Profile
- Is There Anything Good About Men? (2007)
- Roberts, Russ (November 14, 2001). "Baumeister on Gender Differences and Culture". EconTalk. Library of Economics and Liberty.