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Enhancing ecosystem goals

In the section outlining Professor Jennifer Crocker's work we summarised her ideas on the differences between the 'egosystem' and 'ecosystem' motivational systems. Egosystem goals involve pursuing my own desires for self-esteem and egotistical gains such as admiration and status. This type of goal often makes me feel anxious about failure and this, coupled with other effects of this type of behaviour, can undermine well-being.

Ecosystem goals, by contrast, are about doing things for others and which serve a goal larger than myself. Being considerate, kind, giving and interested in others are the type of activities involved in ecosystem goals. Serving these types of goals is not just good for others but also enhances my own well-being.

Crocker argues that human beings are driven by both motivational systems but that we make a 'moment by moment' choice about which one we pay attention to. She thinks that we can begin to shift more towards ecosystem goals by becoming more aware. She gives the example of giving a talk. Of course, she says, it is understandable that as a speaker I will want to appear competent and knowledgeable but this type of goal can be kept in check if I focus attention on what I can give by way of time, information etc to others. The advantage of this approach is that if the talk does not go well then my self-esteem is not the main issue and it is possible to simply see it as a missed opportunity. This then means that I am less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.

To concentrate on ecosystem goals, Crocker suggests shifting attention more to -
  • Giving
  • Creating
  • Contributing
  • Learning


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