Seeking approval...we all do it to some extent, even if we don't like to admit it.

Even on this website, you must admit that it makes you feel good when someone upvotes your answer ;)

So why is approval-seeking such a fundamental part of human behavior?

asked 22 Oct '09, 21:35

Stingray's gravatar image


edited 14 Jan '11, 15:34

Barry%20Allen's gravatar image

Barry Allen ♦♦

Right now I think it's because we were so dependent on our parents when we are first born and growing up.

(26 Dec '12, 22:10) clearheart
showing 0 of 1 show 1 more comments

(edited my original post quite a bit. Sorry about that. I shouldn't have posted a half-baked answer in the first place.)

It all boils down to the desire to feel loved and appreciated. For most people in the world approval-seeking is an expression of low self-esteem. Praise temporarily fills the void created by the feeling of not being loved and we experience pleasant emotions. Because we don't know how to close this void we figure that we can only be happy when others approve of us. Usually we come to this conclusion when we are still very little because the big people around us that we look up to (parents, teachers etc.) are fond of harshly expressing their disapproval when we don't act the way they expect us to. Disapproval feels bad so we start trying to act in a way that others will like and gradually this kind of behavior becomes a habit. Slowly the emotional high we get from approval becomes addictive and when we don't get our dose, we suffer. That motivates to conform to others' rules even more.

As with any disturbing emotion though, approval-seeking too can be transformed into something useful. If we could let go of the craving for it, receiving or not receiving approval can be a valuable guide, that shows us whether we are offering something of value or not. If people are not upvoting my answer, it's because it's not valuable to them.

There are many techniques to eliminate low self-esteem but to really close the void we have to raise our awareness and see that the very energy from which we originate is loving and kind and being omnipresent it is all around us and even in us all the time. There is no reason to fill unloved ever.


answered 23 Oct '09, 03:52

Toshiro's gravatar image


edited 23 Oct '09, 12:19

@Toshiro - Great answer!

(18 Oct '12, 10:15) figure8shape

@Toshiro, I find a lot of value in your answer! Thanks for the insight!

(12 Nov '12, 08:08) Bedazzled

I think it's about confirming our identity and relationship with others though, by seeking approval, we are also conforming to a degree. We pass some of our power to others by seeking their approval. It does appear to be an inbuilt thing though and maybe it has to do with some aspect of surviving - for example, if we didn't belong to a group in prehistoric times we were less likely to be able to survive alone. We got our food, relationships, protection and nurturing from the group.


answered 22 Oct '09, 22:58

Rebecca's gravatar image


edited 23 Oct '09, 12:57


I agree.In my work environment I have always been a ppl pleaser just to avoid drama. Now with focused awareness I'm learning newer ways to function in my work place. It hasn't happened over night and sometimes I forget, still I usually refocus quick enough to be true to myself first.

(12 Nov '12, 02:36) clearheart

It's a validation of what we believe about ourselves. If we think we are intelligent, we appreciate being acknowledged as such. If we think we are helpful or generous, we appreciate being acknowledged as such.

I don't think it's simply a matter of looking for ego strokes, either. I think the validation of what we believe about ourselves is a kind of realty check for us, so we can be sure we haven't been deluding ourselves. One of the biggest problems with various addictions is "denial". The person doesn't believe they have a problem. That's just an example of how we are capable of deluding ourselves.

So if I think I'm a good person, that's fine. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy. But does society share that view? To have others acknowledge that I am a good person is a confirmation and validation of my belief. It's a reality check.


answered 23 Oct '09, 06:01

John's gravatar image


Another view good point in another direction. A reality check I like that one John.

(23 Oct '09, 06:25) flowingwater

But it depends - I decided a while ago that life is not a popularity contest :>) I certainly don't want the approval of some members of society. It depends on WHO is giving the opinion or validation - it's always a conditional thing. I don't think it's a reality check at all - if it is, then your reality, your validation and your power has just been passed to someone else. You are primarily and ultimately the one whose opinion should matter, between you and God and your conscience.

(24 Oct '09, 02:20) Rebecca

Point taken, but if we are going to live in relationship with others in society, there has to be some understanding about what the norms of society are for acceptable behavior. That's why society puts some people in prison, because they have not abided by the established norms. I agree that ultimately my own opinion is what matters and that the issue finally rests between myself and God, but unless we live as hermits we need to conform at least to a minimal degree by seeking society's approval. The price, as you've noted, is to "pass some of our power to others" but it seems a necessary price.

(24 Oct '09, 03:45) John

I might think it's appropriate to take whatever I want in life (and there are certainly people who justify that attitude), but if I plan to peacefully coexist in a society, it's a practical thing to give that idea a "reality-check" in terms of conforming to that society's reality.

(24 Oct '09, 03:51) John
showing 2 of 4 show 2 more comments

Well, we all want the approver of someone. We want to be included into the club,group, organization, or what ever. We play sports because we like it and all will cheer us on when we do good and that in it self makes us feel good, respected, admired or important.

I think it is built into nature or our being.

Right even on this sight it make you feel good when someone upvotes your answer or questions. We are human beings and I believe it is in our nature to want to be included into the human aspect of life and to feel good when other appreciated what we are doing or admire what we have done or is so admazed by what we can do.

Because a lot of time we judge ourselves by what others think of us. If others think good of us or admire us and we feel good about our selves but if others don't like us and we don't seem to fit in anywhere and aren't admire for any accomplishments than we feel sad and dis placed or out of sorts.

But what I am learning we need to first feel good on the inside about our selves than it will radiate out to others and they will pick up on the energy or vibrations we are sending out and feel good about us. Also we need to think postive about ourselves and change our vibrations upwards and uplift ourselves and others.


answered 22 Oct '09, 21:47

flowingwater's gravatar image


Because positive and negative feedback are the basis for all learning. It is as natural as breathing; we move towards those things that make us feel good, and avoid those things that make us feel bad.


answered 23 Oct '09, 05:33

Vesuvius's gravatar image


@Vesuvius - Nice answer. I'd like to add to your comment (re: the things that make us feel bad) could be useful to move toward that "not-so-good feeling" state, in order to learn more about ourselves...

(18 Oct '12, 10:50) figure8shape

I think it is becasue we are weak and cannot reach the power within us.

At least that is why I do it!


answered 15 Jan '11, 00:20

Back2Basics's gravatar image


@Back2Basics, I agree. Whenever I find myself doing it, it is because I am at my weakest, and instead of going within, I'm looking outside of me. It is always one of the worst feelings for me, but it does seem deeply ingrained.

(12 Nov '12, 08:15) Bedazzled

Because we've been conditioned to believe that it matters what others think and we yearn for attention we may not have received as a kid. Because of this we've gradually moved away from the only approval that really matters and that is approval of oneself.

Yes it feels good when someone upvotes our answers, but what feels even better is when someone leaves a comment acknowledging that our answer helped them. It seems that it's not really approval we're looking for but rather we want to feel that, in some way, we can help and our very existence does make a difference.


answered 15 Jan '11, 01:45

Michaela's gravatar image


one usually seeks approval when not sure of what he or herself believes in on that particular issue.
and if one always seeks or needs approval the the self is underdeveloped.


answered 15 Jan '11, 01:58

fred's gravatar image


Although what you say is true Stingray, that people seek the approval of others, it does seem to me that people like you more when you are not trying to seek their approval. I think this is due to the fact that when we seek others' approval, we give them power over us but if we don't, then it gives us power over them.

As to the reason why we try and seek others' approval, I would say it is because we want to feel accepted and loved as part of society. It seems to be instinctive.


answered 23 Oct '09, 06:37

Pink%20Diamond's gravatar image

Pink Diamond

Its rather important here to take into consideration the SOCIETY.It is the society and not anything else who goes on conditioning humans need for approval.They try to enforce that only they are right and if the other person dont conform with it they are wrong.I say WHY ? By society I dont mean legal obligation....I mean people,because society constitutes people and no one else.Here, I would like to comment people themselves are in confict amongst themselves..i.e to say society itself is in conflict.You (in 2nd post) refer to legal affairs.Then tell me one thing why law in India is different from U.S or say U.K or France.Why laws keep on evolving every now and then, if the society is rigth.Why in Christianity it is not a sin to eat non-veg and in jainism it is and in muslims you can have as many wives as you want.A person born has every fredom to have oppinion of his.YEARS AGO THERE USED TO BE A MAN OF AMAZING BELIEF IN HIMSELF,BUT SOCIETY KILLED HIM. WHY? ONLY BECAUSE HE DID'NT APPROVE OF THE SOCIETY.AND NOW THE SAME SOCIETY BELIEVE THAT THIS PERSON WAS PROBABLY RIGHT,ABSOLUTELY RIGTH.THAT PERSON WAS SOCRATES. YOU CAN EVEN NAME JESUS FOR THAT PURPOSE.NOW YOU SEE THE IMPLICATION OF NON-APPROVAL,IT CAN EVEN CAUSE YOUR DEATH FORGET ABOUT THINGS LIKE EGO BOAST AND ALL.THEN WHY WOULD A PERSON GO AGAINST THE SOCIETY.IF THEY THINK YOUR A DUMB,YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT IT BLINDLY.THEN SUDDENLY OUT OF BLUE ANOTHER PERSON COMES HE SAY YOU ARE VERY INTELLIGENT,MY CHILD.THEN YOU ARE IN CONFLICT BECAUSE THE SOCIETY IS IN CONFLICT. AND TILL A CHILD GROWS UP HE HAVE LEARNT A VERY IMPORTANT LESSON OF LIFE(HE'S PROBABLY LUCKY IF HE HAS'ST) I.E ALWAYS TO SEEK APPROVAL FROM OTHERS AND DONT EVER TRY TO BE ON YOUR OWN,ITS RISKY,ITS WRONG. AND THEN WHEN HIS VIEWS(ABOUT HIMSELF/OTHERS/THINGS) ARE DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS, THEN STARTS THE NEVER ENDING CONFLICT IN HIS MIND.AND PROBABLY HE EVEN CANNOT DENY OTHERS VIEWS SINCE HE CAN BEEN CONDITIONED TO DO SO...IT MAKES HIM TEMPORARILY HAPPY AT THE EXPENSE OF WHAT HE THINKS ABOUT HIMSELF.HE STARTS FEELING GUILTY AND SO ON.SO MANY THINGS STARTS HAPPENING....THE PENDULUM SWINGS AGAINST YOUR beliefs.




answered 07 Aug '11, 19:41

rahul's gravatar image


to know them and what limit they imposse. because if you want harmony you need to know the limit. as for the approval to be accepted that they accept me or not it is not my problem. experience and enjoy.


answered 07 Aug '11, 20:20

white%20tiger's gravatar image

white tiger

According to Bruce Lipton, a former cellular biologist, discovered that cells move toward nourishment and away from poison. Biology of Belief video

On an emotional level, we would then move toward love and away from fear. So love is emotional nourishment. We download information about our world from our parents and other care givers, for the first seven years after conception. In that time, if we learn to love ourselves, we have a continous supply of emotional nourishment. If we don't, then we learn how to get it for ourselves. We learn to depend on others for this emotional nourishment. Different people find different ways of doing this, some more dysfunctional than others and some dangerous, etc...

So people seek others' approval when they don't know how to show it to themselves. They rely on the outside world instead of the inner one. The more we become happy within ourselves and can love and accept ourselves, regardless of what others think, the less we have a need to seek the approval of others. And the more true to ourselves we can be and the more genuine we can be.

PS I am still working on this. I do care about votes.


answered 18 Oct '12, 10:59

Fairy%20Princess's gravatar image

Fairy Princess

edited 18 Oct '12, 14:20


@Fairy Princess - Love this answer. There is a lot in here, briefly expressed. We either learn to get love from ourselves or from others. So simple and true. I'd say I am better off going within for my love. I'm happier here with myself than I ever was, looking to anyone else for love... and I am unanimous in this! Lol!

(26 Dec '12, 20:13) Grace

Because we ourselves are not sure about that thing we are proposing ourselves to say or do.

We just don´t put too much energy in that thing, so we search for that lacking energy in the acceptance of others and, if we eventually get it, then we can make that thing 'happen'.

Sometimes it doesn´t work, and you might find people that will actually drain your energy, rather than increasing it.

It´s just a balance of energy.



answered 15 Nov '12, 10:05

Samadohn's gravatar image


There are many reasons for seeking approval of others viz. 1)The intention may be to eliminate the opposition at the earliest or nutralise or minimise the opposition. 2) The idea is to present the solution as if it is arrived unanimously and pass the responsibility on dormant appover also in case of failure
3)Approvals works as a standby sympathy in case of future failure 4)Lack of confidence makes one to seek approval as a reassurance 5)The intention sometime is to show off once intelligence and belittle other person 6)The intention may be to seek publicity in the society


answered 23 Oct '09, 15:31

Basawaraj's gravatar image


I believe we (our ego) seek approval because we (our ego) lack approval of itself from ourself.

Someones got to feed that damn thing!

Just sayin :)

Michael Dude


answered 15 Jan '11, 00:29

jim%2010's gravatar image

jim 10

Everyone wants approval to feel like some body special, perhaps like a Hero to someone and everyone: to feel loved and wanted, needed, cared for, appreciated, for giving, for sharing, for accepting, for being a friend, for showing compassion, for making a difference in someone else’s life, but most important recognizing the approval of others, and returning it back to them!


answered 15 Jan '11, 03:23

Inactive%20User's gravatar image

Inactive User ♦♦

More and more of late I am taken aback by flatterers.I hear them and feel warm and fuzzy and then a bell goes off in my head that reminds me how fickle people can be and I thank them and know that they are often coming from a place of need or manipulation.

That is fine if that is how they feel, I still want to be able to see things clearly even when someone is using flatery as a manipulative tool.

I have to feel so good about myself that I can stand and agree with them and not get sucked into thier world. In the past I was manipulated by words and gestures way too easily and I am more aware now to see exactly what is behind the compliment.

I also am more aware of when I am using flatery to seek approval. I find this study so exciting.


answered 12 Nov '12, 02:47

clearheart's gravatar image


If we approach this question from a purely energy veiw. Our energy center needs love and recognition just as much as our brain does. Don't we feel that tingling in our solar plexes when we get or give love or approval. I would quess that the tingling is your energy signature growing. The growth must feel good to that pure energy center because we instintivley crave love and approval. It's not something we ask for with our brain it comes from a place far deeper. Even in my most confident space getting aproval or love feels good. How do you feel when you say to someone Thank you or even smile at a stanger. If we remember the adage: Love is boundless. At this monment I wish I could ask my ex a question about scripture. But alas it is not to be. I decress. There is something in the Catholic Bible or rituals about Love haveing no bounds? So if we look at Love and Approval as similar energy signatures they are things our pure energy forms need for growth. The more we give good energy out the more good energy we get, the better we feel in our solar plexes. The center of our energy signature. Here is a request for you all; the next time you do something kind for a stranger and get a smile; try to feel your reaction in your solar plexes. Like they say in yoga, Feel what you feel.


answered 12 Nov '12, 10:24

suds's gravatar image


I just realized something when I read your post suds, I get that tingleing from my heart up to my head. Then I get a dred feeling in my solar plexis when I don't trust the person involved.

(12 Nov '12, 10:38) clearheart

This is the problem of feeling that guidance, power, authority and acceptance must come from outside. Whether it be from a human authority, or some exoteric being, it is seeking outside of the self. It says "I am little, I need help from outside. Someone that I look up to, someone more educated, someone better than me, a pastor, a lawyer, a doctor, a priest, a policeman. We give away our right and authority because we believe in outside influence and authority. We believe we are just victims, tossed and thrown here and there helplessly. So because of this diseased thinking we feel we need outside approval to feel good about ourselves.


answered 26 Dec '12, 21:59

Wade%20Casaldi's gravatar image

Wade Casaldi

edited 26 Dec '12, 22:00

It helps your mind to believe what you want it to believe but finds resistance to accept. in other words, it feels good. :-)


answered 23 Oct '09, 01:17

Adel's gravatar image


We are social creatures. All of creation is manufactured in this way. Creation is a building block of matter. The earth is a consortium of universal material that created something new. Human beings are also a plethora of universal material that are bond to the earth that we originated from. We are bound to the universe just as much as we are bound to each other.


answered 14 Jan '11, 16:55

Constantine's gravatar image


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