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  Self-Realization Management Profile and Satisfaction of Basic Psychological Needs of Workers: A Correlational Study

Self-Realization Management Profile and Satisfaction of Basic Psychological Needs of Workers: A Correlational Study

Juan Alberto Vargas Téllez



Universidad De La Salle Bajío / México 


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Juan Alberto Vargas Téllez, Universidad De La Salle Bajío Correo electronico:  

: 28 de Septiembre de 2016 
Aprobado: 8 de Febrero de 2017

Referencia recomendada:
Vargas, J. (2017). Self-Realization management profile and satisfaction of basic psychological needs of workers: A correlational study. Revista de Psicología GEPU, 8 (2), 60-74.

Abstract: Considering theoretical framework of the humanists’ theories of Self-realization and Self-determination, a study was carried out in four footwear companies in the city of Leon, State of Guanajuato. We applied the POI (Personal Orientation Inventory) to 18 supervisors and a Questionaire of Psychological Needs Satisfaction at Work to 366 workers. Correlations were made of 12 scales of the POI and 21 items of the Questionnaire. Among the relevant data, it was observed that five scales I (Self-concept), Sav (Affirmation of Self-realization values), Sr (Self-concept), Sa (Self-acceptance) and Sy (Synergy), had correlations of 0.4 or more (positive or negative) in six or more items, demonstrating the possibility to have the influence of the authority figure on Self-realization or Self-actualization degree (in this case supervisor’s), with the psychological needs of autonomy, competence and socialization of workers.

Keywords:Self-Empowerment, POI, Self-Determination Theory, Questionnaire of Psychological Needs Satisfaction at Work.  

Resumen: Considerando el marco teórico de las teorías humanistas de autorrealización y autodeterminación, se llevó a cabo un estudio en cuatro empresas de calzado en la ciudad de León, estado de Guanajuato. Aplicamos el POI (Inventario de Orientación Personal) a 18 supervisores y un Cuestionario de Satisfacción de las Necesidades Psicológicas en el Trabajo a 366 trabajadores. Se hicieron correlaciones de 12 escalas del POI y 21 ítems del Cuestionario. Entre los datos relevantes, se observó que cinco escalas I (autoconcepto), Sav (Afirmación de los valores de autorrealización), Sr (autoconcepto), Sa (autoaceptación) y Sy (sinergia), tenían correlaciones de 0.4 o más (positivo o negativo) en seis o más ítems, demostrando la posibilidad de tener la influencia de la figura de autoridad en el grado de autorrealización o autorrealización (en este caso, del supervisor), con las necesidades psicológicas de autonomía, competencia y socialización de los trabajadores

Palabras clave: Autoempoderamiento, POI, teoría de la autodeterminación, cuestionario de necesidades psicológicas, satisfacción en el trabajo.


Business organizations have played a key role throughout history as social Social structures, that generate, process, produce and market consumer goods that people need to survive or to cover the myriad of primary and secondary needs. They’ve also been the place where human beings have particular forms of interaction, for example, from basic formal boss-subordinate relationships and co-workers, to all those who are called informal like friendships and enmities, subgroups and subcultures, that are no less important for organizational dynamics. Perhaps, For these reasons, more time and effort its spent to understand theor social dynamics, especially the impact of boss-subordinate relationship on the company productivity and success. Several studies have focused on the analysis of the way in which the psychological profile of authority figures impacts the performance of workers, through factors such as job satisfaction (Savery and Luks, 2001; Davis, 2004; Koh and Boo, 2004; Appelbaum et al, 2005; Vargas, 2009), motivation (Pathan and Shah, 2009; Daniel, 2010; Syed, Anka, Shaikh and Jamali, 2012), organizational commitment (Meyer and Herscovitch, 2001; Rock, Beltran-Martin, Escrig and Bou, 2005; Thick, 2007), creativity (Andriopoullos, 2001; Fain, Kline, Duhovnik and Vukasinovic, 2010), among others.

Within the area of organizational behavior research, this study analyzes the relationship of self-realization profile of a group of supervisors with the satisfaction of basic psychological needs of their employees, considering that the greater maturity with a tendency of inner growth of the authority figures can positively influence that the people in charge meet better those needs.

As a reference framework, first, the concept of self-realization is explained, and its relevance to the study of organizational behavior. Then, we present the Self-Determination Theory as the basis of the model of basic psychological needs satisfaction of autonomy, competence and socialization in the workplace.

Self-realization: Self-realization (also can be considered synonymous with Auto-actualization Person by Fritz Perls and Operating Globally Person by Carl Rogers), is a concept developed within the humanistic theory of Abraham H. Maslow (1954, though the concept seems to have been coined by Wertheimer, professor of Maslow), who suggested a hierarchy of needs, this refers to an organizational structure with different degrees of power. When a level of need is satisfied the next higher level becomes the focus of attention. Development needs are at the top of hierarchy. The deficit needs are lower while the higher needs include development requirements. This distinction can be understood if one bears in mind the difference between the need for something against the need to do something. Maslow argued that lower needs are more powerful and have priority over higher. When lower needs are satisfied, higher needs then appear on your knowledge and the person is motivated to try to meet them. Only when all the lower needs are satisfied a person can start experimenting Self-Realization needs.

In the early sixties Maslow (1962, 29) wrote: "We can learn from self-realized people which can be the ideal attitude towards work in the most favorable circumstances. Those self-developed people assimilate their work with their own identity, that is, the work becomes part of the most intimate aspect of their definition that makes themselves. Work can be psychotherapeutic and psychologic (to make people who are emotionally well-developed move towards self-realization). Naturally, to some extent, it is a circular relationship, i.e. if we start from people who are already well-developed and are working in a good organization, work tends to improve those people. And this fact tends to improve the whole industry, which in turn tends to improve people involved, etc. 

This is the easiest way to say that proper management of the working life of human beings and the way they make a living can improve the world; in this sense, it seems a Utopian or revolutionary vision. Maslow used the term “eupsiquia” referring to the culture of thousands of self-actualized people on an island where nothing and no one outside the island would interfere with them. Under these conditions, social and organizational life would be in harmony, have a healthy democracy and social welfare. It is also clear that many other authors (e.g., Peter Drucker, Charles Handy, Peter Senge, and Fredy Kofman) also noticed the impact that development has on the psychological maturity of the leaders, executives and entrepreneurs in culture and work climate.

One of the most well-known tools to get self-realization profile is the Personal Orientation Inventory (POI). This instrument was developed by Shostrom (1964), and was also appreciated and used by Abraham Maslow himself, master of the first one. Since its inception, the POI has been used for studies of various kinds (e.g. Braun and Asta, 1968 and 1969; Foulds, 1969; Melamed, Silverman and Lewis, 1975; Leak, 1984; Fogarty, 1994). Today, the concept of self-realization of the POI is still taken into account to conduct research on topics such as Self-actualization and Counseling (Abney, 2002), cultural studies (Cilliers, Koortzen and Beer, 2004), assessing the impact of experiences human development training (Parra, Ortiz, Barriga, Henriquez and Neira, 2006), obtaining student psychological profiles (Erazo et al, 2009), obtaining and evaluating managerial profiles (Vargas, 2008 and 2009).

Self-Determination Theory (SDT): Can be considered to be a macro theory of human motivation, related to the development and functioning of personality in a social context. It analyzes the extent to which the behaviors are volitional or self-determined, or the degree to which people perform their actions considering a level of reflection and engage in actions from a choice (Deci, Connell & Ryan, 1989). It is based on organismic and dialectical vision that assumes that people are active organisms, with natural tendencies toward psychological growth, continuous effort to integrate their experiences in a manner consistent with their will, as it holds the vision of humanistic psychology.

According to Moreno and Martinez (2006), SDT evolved taking as a starting point four theoretical models: Theory of Cognitive Assessment (Deci, Connell & Ryan, 1989), which aims to specify the factors that explain the variability of intrinsic motivation, Organic Integration Theory (Deci and Ryan, 2000), which aims to detail the forms of extrinsic motivation and contextual factors that promote or inhibit the internalization and integration in the regulation of behavior, Theory of Basic Needs (Deci and Ryan, 2002), which deal with the impact of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relationship, in the overall functioning of the person and his healthy development. Theory of Causality Orientation (Deci, Connell and Ryan, 1989), which conceptualizes causality orientations as relatively enduring aspects of individuals, which characterize the origin of the regulation and the degree of self-determination of behavior.

Deci, Connell and Ryan (1989) define self-determination as the ability of an individual to choose and perform actions based on his decisions. People are self-determined themselves as the initiators of their own behavior, selected results and choose a course of action that leads to achieve those results. Competence and self-determination are linked in the sense that competence has to be given in the context of self-determination to influence intrinsic motivational processes (Reeve, 1998).

The SDT, thus, revealed a central idea that in order to develop his potential in the workplace an individual needs to satisfy his priority and universal needs, already mentioned above: autonomy, sense of competence and relationship. Autonomy, in this context means, for a person to be in control of himself, his goals and objectives, to have a clear vision of his own points of reference for assessing reality, confidence, to make his own decisions, desires and to face new experiences as detonator of his potential, among others. An authority person at the workplace provides conditions for the development of autonomy when he really strives to provide an environment where the employee feels the respect for his ideas and experience; he is helped to articulate a new individual perspective that allows making decisions about the employee’s own work, his daily tasks, share responsibility for results. In short, providing autonomy implies facilitating collaborative processes that can self-regulate his actions and take responsibility for the employees, rather than imposing them from outside by an authority figure (Ilardi, Leone, Kasser and Ryan, 1993).

The need for competence (in the sense of ability, not to compete with others), refers to feeling capable or efficient to accomplish what one sets out to achieve; it is a sense of self-worth on one’s own driving skills and potential to do things best, to the extent that they have a special meaning for oneself or for those with whom the person is related. The superior or boss provides conditions to meet these needs as far as giving feedback and recognition on the performance of his collaborator, allowing to strengthen self-confidence.

The third need, relationship, is the sense of being appreciated and being connected with other people, as a social being, the person has a strong need for acceptance and recognition, which is based initially on the unconditional love that should provide the mother who generates feelings of self-esteem and worth as a human being. A person of authority provides conditions to strengthen this connection when transmitting the employee a sense of empathy and unconditional acceptance. An interpersonal relationship based on respect and consideration, in itself provides this sense of socialization, allowing people to feel they are heard, attended to, considered, in a word, accepted, plus it is common that work environments are places where significant human ties are established, sometimes deeply emotional among different members of a workgroup.

The central hypothesis, supported by an extensive research (Deci, Connell and Ryan, 1989; Gagné, Koestner and Zuckerman, 2000; Deci, Ryan, Gagné, Leone, Kornazheva and Usunov, 2001), is that to the extent to provide an environment conducive to these human needs, will be achieving greater self-determination or self-regulatory capacity, the greater the development of the potential of the person, which can also lead to a greater commitment and productivity.


Objective: To relate the management self-realization profile obtained with the POI in a group of footwear industry supervisors in Leon-city, Guanajuato, and with the inventory of Basic Psychological Needs Satisfaction applied to their employees.

Hypothesis: some POI profile scales correlated (positively or negatively, depending on the items), with factors of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and socialization.

Participants: 18 supervisors (Table 1) and 366 employees (Table 2) of the production area of four medium-sized enterprises in footwear industry in Leon-city, Guanajuato, Mexico. (Ver tabla 1 en PDF)
Instruments: to obtain self-realization management profile of supervisors, we used the Personal Orientation Inventory (POI; Spanish version by Castaneda and Munguia, 2004), which consists of 150 forced choice items and was applied only to adults with at least secondary education. It is made up of 12 scales, the first two which are the most important and are used in research that use the inventory as they give a quick overview about the competence of the person at present and if his orientation of reactivity is basically toward others (dependent personality) or upon himself (an independent personality). The questionarie of Psychological Needs Satisfaction at Work (QPNSW; Spanish version by Vargas and Soto, 2013), was applied to workers (Deci & Ryan, 2000). 

The scale belongs to a family of scales: one of them is the one that responds to the need of general satisfaction in life, and others are designed to identify specific satisfaction domains, such as work and interpersonal relationships. The original scale has 21 items related to the three needs of competence, autonomy and relationship. Some studies have worked with only 9 items, i. e. three per subscale. The scale used in this work is the full scale of 21 items that has been used more often. by Baard, Deci, and Ryan (2004), Deci, Ryan, Gagné, Leone, Usunov and Kornazheva (2001); Ilardi et al . (1993); Kasser, Davey and Ryan (1992). Items 1, 5R, 8, 11R, 13, 17 and 20R refer to autonomy. Items 3R, 4, 10, 12, 14R and 19R refert to competence. And finally, items 2, 6, 7R, 9, 15, 16R, 18R and 21 refer to relationship. (Ver tabla 2 en PDF)

(Ver tabla 3 en PDF)

In the last three rows of the table there are the ratings for low, medium and optimal levels; the average scores were put in bold when reaching the average level or optimal, which were eight of 12 scales. The following is a general interpretation of the average of scales ratings.
Tc (Time of Competence) Low: people characterized by guilt, remorse and resentment are an anchor in the past that tends to look a continuing defense of past actions, this feature prevents staff to adequately focus on the present, to address and resolve effectively everyday problems.

I (Self-support) Medium: there is an acceptable self-support that is reflected in an internal orientation of life (internal locus of control or self-regulated); there is strength in making decisions based on one’s own perspective.

Sav (Affirmation of Self-realization Values) Medium-High: there is a good acceptance of the values of growth or development, giving importance to aspects of growth and development of people.

Ex (Existential Flexibility) Low-Medium: a tendency to rigidity or lack of flexibility to modify principles or values.

Fr (Emotive Reactivity) Low-Medium: it gives an acceptable handling of emotions, but there may be some difficulties in expressing and in perceiving others.

S (Spontaneity) Medium-High: confidence in making decisions and in expressing one’s own opinions.

Sr (Self-concept) High: it involves a regular capacity to self-accept one's strengths, to face risks and to trust one’s ability to solve non-personal affairs, one does not need others to accept his views.

Sa (Self-acceptance) Low: poor acceptance of one’s weaknesses or deficiencies, one does not feel he should strive to improve. There’s fear to make mistakes and to fail; one’s self-esteem is under continuous threat.

Nc (Perception of Human Nature) Medium-High: we observed the noble nature of a man and his ability to cooperate, e. g. people work to perform and develop themselves, not just for getting money (theory y).

Sy (Synergy) Medium: it gives some ease to reconcile interests; there are some easiness for teamwork and socializing.

A (Acceptance of Aggression) Medium: one is not uncomfortable showing his weaknesses; criticism tends to be acceptable and is a part of the organization culture.

C (Socializing Skill) Medium: there is some ability to develop trust in others; there is interest in promoting good relationships.

Compared with other studies in similar contexts (Vargas 2008 and 2009), the average profile obtained in this population was positively higher, even when displaying areas of opportunity. (Ver tabla 4 en PDF)
As it can be seen, the need to feel competent was that of a higher percentage (71%), followed by the need for socialization (64%) and autonomy (60%).
Table 5 presents the correlations among 12 scales of the POI and 21 items of QPNSW questionaire.

As it can be observed there is a wide range of correlations, the most significant ones are shaded for their better appreciation. These are discussed below based on the analysis of scale-by-scale. The "R" refers to items that are worded in the negative and have that captured correcting the score assigned. (Ver tabla 5 en PDF) 
Tc (Competence in Time) maps to -0.5 in item 14R, "In my work I have many opportunities to show what I’m capable to do." indicating that the higher Tc score, the lower the score of this item, i. e. a high score in this scale is associated with the possibility that people have more opportunities to demonstrate their ability. Another high negative correlation (-0.4) is obtained with the 7R, "I'm very reserved when I'm at work", a higher score of Tc suggests that the dependants are less reserved. This scale also obtained two high positive correlations (0.4) with items 2 and 18R; both refer to feel pleased with the people at work.

I (Self-support), is positively correlated, 0.4 with 5R, "I feel pressure at work", 0.5 with 12, "Most of the time I have a sense of accomplishment in my work", 0.4 with 2, "I really like the people I work with", and 0.4 with the items 16R". I'm very close to the people in my work "and 18R "I don’t like a lot of people I work with". The correlations with 12 and 2 indicate that self-support brings greater sense of accomplishment and appreciation for the people at work. However, positive correlations with other items (type R) suggest that a high score in “I” reflects that people feel more depressed and less close to other people. One possible interpretation is that in some cases (depending on the combination of the scores in some scales, such as avery high I with also high Sr, and low Sy and Nc) could mean a more authoritarian or dominant personality.

Sav (Affirmation of Values of Self-realization) positively correlated 0.4 with 10, "I've been able to learn interesting new skills in my work”, 0.5 with 2, "I really like the people I work with ", 0.4 with 6, "I get along with people at work ", 0.5 with 15, "People at work care about me "; there was a negative correlation of -0.4 with 7, " I'm very quiet at work". These scores suggest that this scale mainly strengthens socialization. Two strange correlations as other trends were with 3R (0.4) and 18R (0.6), referring to "I do not feel very competent when I am at work" and "I do not like a lot of people I work with," which being reversible, may have caused some confusion in answering, especially the last item among all the reversible ones was the only positively correlated item in 11 of 12 scales of the POI, making clear its tendency to be answered positively.

Ex (Flexibility Existential) did not show any significant correlation, the highest positive (0.3) were 13, "My feelings are taken into account at work"; 12, "Most of the time I have a sense of achievement in my work "and 16R," I'm very close to the people in my job".

Fr (Emotive Reactivity) had only two significant correlations, both negative, -0.5 with 1, "I feel I have a wide margin when deciding how to do my job", and -0.4 with 5R, "I feel pressured at work." Apparently, a greater emotional reactivity of monitoring tends to decrease the feeling of being able to decide at work, and decreases the feeling of pressure.

S (Spontaneity), in the same way as above, only had two significant negative correlations: -0.4 with 11R, "When I'm at work I have to do what I say", and -0.4 with 7R,"I'm very reserved when I'm at work”, suggesting that a greater ability to express one's feelings and emotions strengthens the feeling of autonomy and invites employees to express theirs feelings (7R item indicates a greater openness of the collaborator).

Sr (Self-concept) had eight high correlations, it was the scale with more incidents, three in autonomy: 0.4 with 1, "I feel like I have a wide margin when deciding how to do my job," 0.5 with 5R, "I feel pressured at work "and 0.4 with 17, "I feel like I can be myself at work ", and all three items have an interesting relationship, indicating that a high self-concept of monitoring strengthens the autonomy of workers in these factors. It also highlights that there were four correlations in socialization: 0.4 with 2, "I really like the people I work with", 0.4 with 6 "I get along with people at work", and 0.4 with 18R, “I do not like much people where I work” and 0.5 with 21, "People at work are very kind with me." Except for the item 18R, all the others indicate that a good self-concept satisfaction strengthens oversight of the need for socialization. Need of competence obtained a high correlation, 0.4 with 10 "I've been able to learn new interesting skills in my job."

Sa (Self-acceptance) correlated positively, 0.5 with 13 "My feelings are taken into account in the work", 0.5 with 12 "Most of the time I have a sense of accomplishment in my work", with 2 "I really like people at work ", with 6" I get along with people at work ", with 15" People at work care about me "and 21" People at work are very kind to me." Like in other scales, this one had the same correlation with 18R, and apart from this, it is generally appreciated that a high self-acceptance of supervision (it has to do with appreciation of their own areas of opportunity) also strengthens the socialization of employees.

Nc (Perception of Human Nature) along with the former scale did not have high correlations.

Sy (Synergy) had the highest correlations in seven items, four of them referred to the need for competition: 3R "I do not feel very competent when I am at work", 0.7 with 10 "I have been able to learn new interesting skills in my work"and 12 "Most of the time I have a sense of accomplishment in my work ", both were the highest correlations of the study. It also had 0.5 with 6 "I get along with people at work.”It indicates that a supervisory identification with synergy strongly raised sense of competence of employees. Some other correlations of this scale with reversible items were high: 0.5 with 3R “I do not feel very competent when I am at work”, with 19R "When I'm working I often do not feel very capable", and 18R "I do not like much people at work". Except this last reagent that caused confusion, the above one with the corrected score match the positive correlations, indicating that synergy promotes sense of competence of workers.

A (Acceptance of Aggression) obtained a positive correlation of 0.4 with 8 "I am free to express my ideas and opinions in my job", there were three negative correlations with 11R -0.4 "When I'm at work I have to do what I say ", with 20R"There are not many opportunities to decide by myself how to do my job", and 7R, "I'm very reserved when I'm at work”, indicating that a greater acceptance and management of Aggression (ability to accept the tension in relationships and work activities) strengthens the feeling of autonomy in these factors, as well as greater openness of others to express their feelings (7R).

C (Socializing Skill) correlated positively 0.4 with 12, "Most of the time I have a sense of accomplishment in my work”, also 0.4 with 19R, "When I'm working, I often do not feel very skillful", 0.5 with 16R, "I'm very close to many people in my work", and finally the correlation -0.4 with 9, "I believe that the people I work with are my friends". The results of this scale are somewhat inconsistent, because although items 9 and 16R are related to socialization, the inverse correlations were, indeed, expected. More research is needed to adequately explain these data.

As additional information it can also be seen that some items had a logical tendency to correlate with almost all the scales, for example, 7R, 11R, 14R, and 20R did negatively, while 2, 4, 10, 13 and 15 did positively. In addition, 12 correlations were found equal to or greater than 0.4, in competence there were 13 and in relationship 26. There is a total of 51 correlations, 15 of which were inconsistent (they were expected to be positive instead of negative and vice versa), but consider that 6 of these 15 belong to the item 18R and generally can be identified as problematic; the others are widely distributed in other items. Even so, to obtain 36 high or significant correlations, consistent with the stated hypothesis, is a good indication that the management profile obtained with the POI somehow influences the satisfaction of basic psychological needs at work. From this study, especially the need for socialization seems to be the most impacted by the supervisor profile.


Self-determination theory states that people for the benefit of their development need to satisfy three basic psychological needs: autonomy, competence and relationship. The workplace is a place where human beings interact on a daily basis, leading to these needs that can be met or not. As it was shown in the studies like these, the boss-subordinate relationship can be a factor of influence on them, as it were in all possible combinations of correlations, a significant amount of high correlations. It should be highlighted that five scales, I (Self-concept), Sav (Affirmation of Self-realization Values), Sr (Self-concept), Sa (Self-acceptance) and Sy (Synergy) had correlations of 0.4 or more (positive or negative) with six or more items, making it clear that there is an influence of the degree of self-realization or self-actualization of the authority figure (in this case the supervisor) with the psychological needs of workers.


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Vargas, J. y Soto, J. (2013). Validación preliminar de la Escala de Satisfacción de Necesidades Básicas en el Trabajo (Basic Need Satisfaction at Work) para su versió

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