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Personality predictors and developmental trajectories of performance and psychological well-being (final)

Priority areas of development: humanitarian

Goal of research

Analysis of the contribution of personal and motivational-semantic prerequisites in ensuring psychological well-being and success of the activity. Construction of a theoretical model of human motivation in its sustainable and situational-related aspects. Empirical study of the contribution of semantic and motivational prerequisites to psychological well-being in various contexts (in particular, a cross-cultural study of the contribution of freedom and responsibility to the experience of psychological well-being).

During the realization of the project’s goal, in the reporting period, previously launched empirical studies were completed in a number of areas within the project, an analysis of the results was carried out and put into print a number of articles, mainly empirical.


The theoretical sections of the report present the results of a methodological analysis of personal and motivational-semantic prerequisites of psychological well-being and success of the activity based on modern ideas about motivation, self-determination, freedom, responsibility and being alone with yourself. In the empirical studies of the reporting period, a wide range of psychometric, experimental, qualitative and other methods of psychological research were used.

Empirical base of research

Projects in 2018 are a direct continuation and development of the research cycle begun in the previous year.

In total, the empirical basis was slightly less than 1800 people.

Empirical studies presented in the report were conducted on a sample of US students (University of Missouri) and various cities of Russia (total number of participants – more than 1,300 people), as well as 439 visitors to the MTurk website.

Results of research

Theoretical results:

  1. Prospects for the further development of the theory of self-determination are that it could provide a broad basis for new theories of personality. The main problem of the earlier "great theories" was that they did not have enough support in empirical research. Since data collection and processing methods have improved significantly over the past few decades, modern theories can be justified in the most demanding ways. At the same time, it is time to integrate the achievements of the theorists of the past under a new foundation, on the development of which one should work.
  2. Assessment of the publication activity of scientists is kind of kind of results-based management tool (RBM). Such tools are actively used in institutions of higher education in Russia and the world. In theory, results-based management tools should increase employee motivation. In practice (especially in industries related to the production of new knowledge) this can be problematic, since the UPR doctrine relies on the initial assumption that a well-developed control system will help increase the labor efficiency of employees. However, according to the modern data of the psychology of motivation, various management decisions can negatively affect the internal motivation and well-being of employees. Numerous empirical evidence of the theory of self-determination show that focusing only on external motivating factors when scientists plan their research activities will inevitably lead to a further decline in the quality of scientific work, its meaningfulness and satisfaction with it, and the results of such work will be less creative.
  3. A theoretical analysis of the concepts of “loneliness” and “solitude” made it possible to establish that these concepts need to distinguish in scientific research. The concept of "solitude" has a unique phenomenology, which is often different from the phenomenology of experiencing loneliness. Solitude can be viewed as an independent cultural phenomenon, probably associated with the development of a person’s self-awareness, the emancipation of individual from society and growing autonomy. The perspectives of studying solitude as a situation of auto-communication, including a significant degree of self-reflection, open positive and negative experiences, and carrying the potential for awareness and transformations of internal connections of individual with the world, are considered.

Empirical results:

  1. The research was motivated by a desire to evaluate the veracity of common truisms such as «freedom and responsibility go together» and «freedom breeds responsibility». As a result of the correlation analysis, it was shown that dispositional autonomy and dispositional responsibility tend to co-exist and perhaps emerge together. The next question was which psychological characteristic, if any, has priority in the relationship? Causality flows from contextually emphasized autonomy to accepted responsibility, rather than from contextually emphasized responsibility to accepted responsibility. This is consistent with the tenets of Self-determination theory, which emphasizes the importance of authority autonomy-support for facilitating the internalization of social duties and obligations. Felt responsibility is a phenomenological experience which, perhaps, cannot be manipulated; participants must assent to it, and may do so only if they are treated with sensitivity.
  2. The comparison of U.S. and Russian samples with respect to their levels of autonomy and responsibility revealed some cultural mean differences for dispositional responsibility. In two of three tests Russians were lower on the new personal responsibility. Also, Russian participants were less willing to take responsibility for failure in the experimental scenarios; there was a main effect of cultural membership upon fail responsibility accepted, in all three experiments. Interestingly, Russian participants are not always less willing to accept responsibility; it may depend on who is asking them to do so, and how they are asking. The current data indicate that Russians are happy to take responsibility if they are «asked nicely» by «people they trust». Notably, no mean cultural differences were found for dispositional autonomy.
  3. The study of the main causes of immoral and / or unethical behavior was based on consideration of motivation: to analyze both life goals and reasons for achieving life goals associated with amoral behavior. It was assumed that a certain configuration of life goals and causes lies in the basis of immoral behavior (in which people try to get money and other resources, while wanting to control others). As a result, it was found that, firstly, internal goals, as a rule, are associated with a greater degree of subjective well-being, less immorality (for external purposes, this connection is opposite). Second, internal causes for action predict a greater level of subjective well-being and low immorality, while external causes predict connections in the opposite direction.
  4. In all three studies of the causes of immoral behavior, participants who supported the desire to find an external goal for an external cause (socially controlled) showed the most immoral behavior, as measured by self-esteem of moral behavior and unethicality. It turned out that such a target combination is especially problematic for moral behavior, probably because people acting like that care only about the result of the activity (getting money or avoiding disapproval), and also justify themselves by «having to do it because of others». Such a complex, where an external goal correlates with an internal cause, showed ambiguous results. In two cases, such a target complex predicted a more immoral behavior. In one case, on the contrary, this target complex variable gradually predicted a higher level of subjective well-being.

Methodical and applied results:

  1. As a result of a deep theoretical analysis devoted to the study of the motivation and labor assessment of scientists, specific proposals were formulated for the development of management decisions. All recommendations relate to the central positions of the theory of self-determination.
  2. The data about target complexes as predictors of moral behavior, as well as on the connections of using target complexes with indicators of subjective well-being can be used in the practice of counseling.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

The results of empirical research can be used in the design of university management systems, as well as in the practice of counseling. The obtained cross-cultural empirical results allow us to identify further problems of fundamental research on cultural factors of well-being.


Gulevich O., Osin E., Isaenko N., Brainis L. Scrutinizing homophobia: A model of perception of homosexuals in Russia // Journal of Homosexuality. 2018. Vol. 65. No. 13. P. 1838-1866. doi
Егорова П. А., Осин Е. Н., Кедрова Н. Б., Рогова И. А. О чем и как мечтают подростки: связь с уровнем тревоги и депрессии // Вопросы психологии. 2018. № 3. C. 22-33. 
Żemojtel-Piotrowska M., Piotrowski J. P., Osin E. N., Cieciuch J., Adams B. G., Ardi R., Baltatescu S., Bogomaz S., Bhomi A. L., Clinton A., de C. G. T., Czarna A. Z., Esteves C., Gouveia V., Halik M. H. J., Hosseini A., Khachatryan N., Kamble S. V., Kawula A., Lun V. M., Ilisko D., Klicperova-Baker M., Liik K., Letovancova E., Cerrato S. M., Michalowski J., Malysheva N., Marganski A., Nikolic M., Park J., Paspalanova E., de L. P. P., Pék G., Rózycka-Tran J., Samekin A., Shahbaz W., Ha T. T. K., Tiliouine H., van H. A., Vauclair M., Wills-Herrera E., Wlodarczyk A., Yahiiaev I., Maltby J. The Mental Health Continuum – Short Form: The structure and application for cross-cultural studies – a 38 nation study // Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2018. Vol. 74. No. 6. P. 1034-1052. doi
Sheldon K. M., Sommet N., Corcoran M., Elliot A. J. Feeling interpersonally controlled while pursuing materialistic goals: A problematic combination for moral behavior // Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 2018. No. 44(9). P. 1330-1349. doi