Authenticity entails autonomy, congruence, and genuineness. In this article, we use a self-determination theory framework to discuss a critical aspect of social environments that facilitates these aspects of authenticity, namely the experience of autonomy support. Although authenticity is often studied as a trait or individual difference, we review research demonstrating that authenticity varies within individuals and predicts variations in well-being. Next, we show that perceiving autonomy support within a relational context is associated with people feeling more authentic and more like their ideal selves and displaying constellations of Big 5 personality traits indicative of greater wellness in that context. To explore another important part of authenticity, being genuine in interactions with others, we review evidence linking autonomy support to situational variation in identity disclosure among lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals. This research suggests that perceiving autonomy support within a context or relationship helps lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals be more open about their sexual orientation and identity, which in turn affords greater opportunities for the satisfaction of not only autonomy, but competence and relatedness needs as well, facilitating well-being. We conclude by highlighting future directions in the study of authenticity’s dynamic nature, and the importance of the situation in its expression and its relation to well-being.
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© 2019 American Psychological Association.
- self-determination theory