Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom

Thank you for completing the choice theory self-assessment.

Dr. Glasser in his Choice theory work explains that when we are born we are coded with a generic task that, although it may not be as urgent as breathing, must be performed if we want to be happy; and we must figure out a way to accomplish it. At the core of that task are five basic needs built into our genetic structure: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun. If we can learn to satisfy those needs and not frustrate others in the attempt, we will be happy. The better we satisfy them, the happier we will be.

Choice Theory is based on the assumption that all behavior represents the individual’s constant attempt to satisfy one or more of five basic inborn needs. In other words, no behavior is caused by any situation or person outside of the individual. According to Choice Theory, people or events outside us never stimulate us to do anything. Our behavior always represents the choice to do what most satisfies our need at the time. We answer the phone because we choose to do so in order to communicate, not because we react to the ring. We stop at a red light because we choose to avoid risking a traffic ticket or an accident, not because the light turned red. When we repeat a choice that is consistently satisfying, we exercise less and less deliberation in making that choice. Even a quick action is chosen and not automatic.

Basic Needs

All individuals are driven by needs that serve as instructions for attempting to live their lives. These basic needs are:

(a) Survival
(b) Love and Belonging
(c) Be in/Have Power/Control
(d) Freedom (to be free)
(e) Fun

Dr. Dar is passionate about you Being the Chooser in relationships between Parents and their Teenagers.

Choice theory explains, we choose everything we do. This means that each one of us can control only his own thoughts and actions.  You have choices and your teen has choices. Neither of you is locked into any behavior; both of you can make a different choice and, if you are not getting along well, a better choice is almost always possible.

Choice theory states that:

  • All we do is behave,
  • That almost all behavior is chosen, and
  • That we are driven by our genes to satisfy five basic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun.

In practice, the most important need is love and belonging, as closeness and connectedness with the people we care about is a requisite for satisfying all of the needs.

Choice theory, with the Seven Caring Habits, replaces external control psychology and the Seven Deadly Habits. External control, the present psychology of almost all people in the world, is destructive to relationships. When used, it will destroy the ability of one or both to find satisfaction in that relationship and will result in a disconnection from each other. Being disconnected is the source of almost all human problems including conflict between teen and parent, school failures, etc.

Relationships and our Habits


Seven Caring Habits
Internal Control

Seven Deadly Habits
External Control

1 Supporting Criticizing
2 Encouraging Blaming
3 Listening Complaining
4 Accepting Nagging
5 Trusting Threatening
6 Respecting Punishing


Negotiating Difference Bribing, rewarding to control

 The Ten Axioms of Choice Theory

  1. The only person whose behavior we can control is our own.
  2. All we can give another person is information.
  3. All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems.
  4. The problem relationship is always part of our present life.
  5. What happened in the past has everything to do with what we are today, but we can only satisfy our basic needs right now and plan to continue satisfying them in the future.
  6. We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our Quality World.
  7. All we do is behave.
  8. All behavior is Total Behavior and is made up of four components: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology.
  9. All Total Behavior is chosen, but we only have direct control over the acting and thinking components. We can only control our feeling and physiology indirectly through how we choose to act and think.
  10. All Total Behavior is designated by verbs and named by the part that is the most recognizable.