Discussion Essay on Allport’s Concept of Functional Autonomy

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The Discussion Assignment: Discussion Essay on Allport’s Concept of Functional Autonomy

PSY 255 Personality Psychology Topic 3 DQ 2

Discuss Allport’s concept of functional autonomy. Identify two instances in your life where functional autonomy was present.

TheDiscussion Essay Solution: Discussion on Allport’s Concept of Functional Autonomy

Topic 3 DQ 2 Discussion Essay

Gordon W. Allport’s concept of ‘functional autonomy,’ according to the American Psychological Association (APA), (2020), is “a general principle of motivation stating that during the performance of purposeful, goal-oriented behavior, various derivative drives emerge as independent units from the original drive that inspired the behavior”.

It goes on to provide the example of studying for the goal of getting good marks, and how that may eventually be replaced with a desire for (and pursuit of) knowledge for its own sake. When I read this term, I’m reminded of the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic drive. In intrinsic motivation, you do something because you want to, but in extrinsic motivation, you do it because you know you’ll receive something in return.

Based on the APA’s example, I believe the idea of functional autonomy is more closely related to intrinsic motivation. I can think of a lot of examples of extrinsic motivation that I’ve seen, but intrinsic motivation is more difficult to come up with. However, if I had to choose two, I’d say moving to Arizona School for the Arts during my freshman year of high school and working at St. Vincent de Paul.

My parents went through all of the ‘hoops’ to get me started at ASA because I was organically driven. I was also encouraged to start volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul because I have always liked helping others in the Phoenix community and giving back to those who are less fortunate. These are the two most prominent instances of functional autonomy in my life, in my opinion.

Topic 3 DQ 2 Response

Hi xxx,

Your essay regarding the “now” behavior of seeking knowledge is an excellent example of “functional autonomy.” Thank you for contributing.

After reading your piece, I was reminded of how Nicholas Spark became such a well-known author. His literary career started by chance. He started writing to pass the time when unable to participate in sports owing to an injury. What started as a way to pass the time and distract himself from his disability turned into a lifelong habit and a successful job. His motivation is no longer to pass the time, but to pursue a profession.

Nicholas Sparks best recounts the tale when he relates what his mother told to him. “The issue is that you’re bored.” You must find something to occupy your time…” Then she turned to face me and spoke the words that would alter my life forever: “Write a book.” I have never considered writing before then. Granted, I’m always reading, but sitting down and making up a narrative on my own?… I had become an unintentional novelist at the age of nineteen.”

I’d want to learn more about a successful ‘functional autonomy’ program like Sparks. Unfortunately, I believe that functional autonomy is not always healthy, although I’m sure it is a question of personal opinion. What if Sparks’ mother got him video games and he spent his whole injury season playing them? And he continued to play video games throughout his life. We may never find out who he is or be able to fall in love with the film “Notebook.”

Discussion Essay on Allport’s Concept of Functional Autonomy

Topic 3 DQ 2 Discussion Essay

Gordon Allport was not one to delve too deeply into a person’s background in order to comprehend how they are now. “The idea of functional autonomy exemplifies this belief: your current impulses are independent (autonomous) of their origins” (Boeree, 2006, p. 32). I acquired a taste for green beans as one example of functional autonomy, or I developed a liking for collecting tarot and oracle cards as another example.

Why I acquired a love for green beans or why I wanted to collect these cards is irrelevant. The realities are that I am now in this position. (Boeree, 2006). Persistent functional autonomy refers to habits or activities that have outlived their initial purpose yet continue to exist. For example, I used to taunt my cousin by using the word “like” often in my speech, but it now serves no purpose and has become a habit. Another example is cracking my knuckles to ease hand discomfort, but it has become a habit that I am unable to break.

“Something a little more self-directed than habits is appropriate function autonomy.” (Boeree, 2006, p. 34). Functional autonomy, as defined by Allport Essay about debate. My punishment as a youngster for being selfish is a wonderful illustration of this. Another example is I was friendly to animals. These do not distract from my kindness now; this has become my value. (Boeree, 2006).

Topic 3 DQ 2 Discussion Essay

Hello Class, What Gordon Allport’s functional autonomy simply implies is that the activities utilized for accomplishing a goal become independent of itself over time when one completes these acts toward accomplishment of their objectives. So, at the beginning of an endeavour towards a goal the behaviors are closely connected with the aim. Over time, these acts become typical and consequently less visibly related with the final purpose (Elsevier’s Dictionary of Psychological Theories, 2006).

I can think of a few personal instances in my life, such as the undertaking of a new career or learning how to play guitar. Over time whether studying my obligations in the office or playing guitar my actions were less about the final aim of learning these chores or chord progressions and scales, and more about doing them as I had grown more adept in them.

Discussion Essay on Allport’s Concept of Functional Autonomy

Discussion Essay on Allport’s Concept of Functional Autonomy
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the concept of functional autonomy?

A basic idea in rehabilitation, a person’s capacity to execute independently the numerous activities necessary in everyday living.

2. What is functional autonomy according to Allport?

Discussion Essay on Allport’s Concept of Functional Autonomy
Allport’s Concept

Allport (1937b), proposed functional autonomy as an alternative to the more widely accepted dynamic psychologies (motivation theories) that tended to look for the basis of mature, human drive in intrinsic biology.

3. What are some examples of functional autonomy?

An example of functional autonomy is when the basic motivation of producing money to purchase things becomes a drive, and making money becomes a goal in and of itself.

Additional content on the topic.


  • Allport’s functional autonomy principle. (2006). In J. E. Roeckelein (Ed.), Elsevier’s dictionary of psychological theories. Elsevier Science & Technology. Retrieved from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/estpsyctheory/allport_s_functional_autonomy_principle/0?institutionId=5865
  • APA Dictionary of Psychology. https://dictionary.apa.org/functional-autonomy
  • Dr. C. George Boeree. (2006). Gordon Allport. Retrieved from https://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/allport.html
  • Wikipedia contributors. (2020, January 10). Nicholas Sparks. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:15, April 9, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nicholas_Sparks&oldid=935109149

Discussion Essay on Allport’s Concept of Functional Autonomy

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