Psychological well-being and uniqueness seeking behaviour
Law, Colleen Ashleigh
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between psychological wellbeing and uniqueness seeking behaviour. Early research in psychology has primarily followed a pathogenic approach, focusing on the way in which stressful life events predispose an individual to negative health outcomes. More recently a number of theorists and researchers have adopted a salutogenic approach, which refers to the origins of physical and mental health and explores the factors that assist individuals to maintain psychological and physical well-being in the face of stressful situations (Antonovsky. 1979 & 1987; Pallant & Lae, 2002). Uniqueness seeking is a relatively new construct that seems to be part of the repertoire of strengths an individual uses to improve psychological well-being. Theorists postulate that moderate needs for uniqueness are experienced more positively than extremely high or extremely low needs for uniqueness. (Lynn & Snyder, 2002 and Snyder & Fromkin, 1980). The study aims to determine the difference in psychological well-being in individuals with varying needs for uniqueness; to explore the perceptions and subjective experience of uniqueness seeking; and to explore the role uniqueness seeking plays in consumer behaviour. The psychometric properties of two scales measuring uniqueness will also be investigated, as they have not previously been used in a South African sample. To achieve these aims an availability sample of 187 students completed self-report measures of psychological well-being and uniqueness seeking behaviour namely, the Orientation to Life Scale (Antonovsky. 1987), the Self Attributed Need for Uniqueness Scale (Lynn and Harris, 1997b) and the Desire for Unique Consumer Products Scale (Lynn and Harris, 1997a). Sixteen of these students participated in focus groups in order to explore the participants' subjective experience of being unique. A further 13 participants took part in focus groups in order to explore the role uniqueness seeking plays in consumer behaviour. The measures were found to be reliable in this particular group and the means and standard deviations calculated were comparable with those mentioned in literature. No direct relationship between psychological well-being and uniqueness seeking was found, nor was it found that differences in psychological well-being exist between individuals with a moderate sense of uniqueness and individuals with a high or low sense of uniqueness. Individuals perceive uniqueness to be a quality that emerges naturally through the expression of the self and that actively seeking to be unique or not is rather due to a poor self-image. It was further found that individuals would go to some length to protect their sense of uniqueness, that most individuals preferred a sense of moderate uniqueness to either extremely high or extremely low sense of uniqueness, and that most individuals are satisfied with their level of uniqueness. Individuals described feeling happy and more confident when they perceived themselves to be unique. These individuals believe that the stage of life they are in and significant others play a role in determining the way in which uniqueness will have meaningful expression for them. Uniqueness seeking does not play as big a role in consumer behaviour as was expected, however, it does influence the consumption of consumer goods to a certain extent. It is therefore concluded that uniqueness seeking influences psychological well-being indirectly by the relationship it has with self-image. self-identity, self-confidence, group identifications, and subjective happiness. These findings have implications for future research in that the need for a valid and reliable instrument measuring uniqueness for use in South African samples is highlighted. The findings further clarify the uniqueness seeking construct thus contributing to the literary database of constructs that play a role in psychological well-being.
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