Optimal Human Being: An Integrated Multi-Level Perspective


Ken Sheldon's ambitious new book addresses two complementary questions: how can individuals best integrate the different levels and facets of themselves to achieve "optimal human being", and how can researchers best integrate the different levels of analysis within the human sciences to understand "optimal human being" in general. In the process, the book supplies two comprehensive new frameworks-one for viewing the human sciences as a group, and the other for viewing personality theory within that group. Within these consilient frameworks organismic, cybernetic, and evolutionary theoretical perspectives are used to discuss the meaning and causes of optimal human functioning. Chapter one provides a historical overview and suggests provisional definitions of optimal human being. A multi-level model, introduced in chapter two, moves from lower, more biologically based levels of analysis to higher, more socially based levels, demonstrating how these different levels of analysis interact to determine behavior. Chapter three considers one level of this hierarchy, personality. In this chapter the author proposes a new way of looking at personality by examining four key "tiers" in personality theory: organismic foundations, personality traits, goals/intentions, and selves/self-concepts. In chapters 4-7, Dr. Sheldon focuses on each of these levels of personality and demonstrates how each one relates to the state of optimal human being. The next two chapters consider two higher levels of analysis relevant to personality-social interaction and culture. The final chapter summarizes and integrates the earlier conclusions while proposing a comprehensive new profile of optimal human being. Intended for researchers and students interested in human potential in a variety of disciplines including social and personality, clinical, developmental, and industrial/organizational psychology and other social sciences, the book will also appeal to educated readers interested in personal change and self-improvement. In addition, the book will serve as an excellent text or supplement in a variety of courses including personality, positive psychology, well being, personal development, and motivation.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Mahwah, NJ
Publication year:
  • 2004


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