||What does it mean to be authentic? Is authenticity an attribute of the individual,
or do certain environmental factors facilitate or inhibit the enactment of the authentic
self? This research proposes that authentic behavior is the subjective perception
that one is behaving in a way that is in accordance with his or her core being. As
such, sense of authenticity is considered an important component of the self. I present
a theoretical model of the relationship between authenticity and the need for social
approval. I analyze the reports of 194 survey respondents and interview data from
21 interviews. These quantitative and qualitative analyses suggest that individuals
engage in authentic and inauthentic behavior for a variety of reasons. Specifically,
three different behavioral motivations have been identified: (1) behavior motivated
by pursuit of the greater social good or for purposes of social cohesion, (2) behavior
motivated by pursuit of instrumental gains, and (3) behavior motivated by an internal
standard of integrity. Demographic variables and psychological variables were also
found to be important determinants of authentic behavior. Blacks reported lower need
for social approval than whites, and subsequently higher reports of authentic behavior.
Self-esteem emerged in the analyses as a powerful predictor of authentic behavior.
In tandem, these results suggest that it may not be one's level of social power that
determines his or her ability to behave in ways deemed authentic, but rather one's
sense of freedom and confidence in oneself.