Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 253–264 | Cite as

Peak Performance of Business Leaders: An Experience Parallel to Self-Actualization Theory

  • Frances Thornton
  • Gayle Privette
  • Charles M. Bundrick


To investigate peak performance, 40 business leaders described personal experiences through interviews and the Privette Experience Questionnaire. In order to discriminate processes of peak performance from personality attributes of business leaders, their questionnaire data were compared with parallel data from a sample of 41 university men. Multivariate analyses of variance of factors and items and follow-up analyses indicated that scores differed but not on defining attributes. The peak performance dyad—full focus and clear sense of self—and aspects of peak experience—significance and fulfillment—were endorsed by both samples. Business leaders endorsed sociability and personal discipline and denied playfulness more than the university men, who endorsed fluidity. The relation of peak performance to self-actualization theory is discussed.


Multivariate Analysis Social Psychology Personal Experience Social Issue Personality Attribute 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Atkins, C. W. (1990). Comparative Analysis of Peak Experience Performance and Non-Peak Experience Performance in Professional Actors and Actresses. (Doctoral dissertation, United States International University). Dissertation Abstracts International, 51-044B, 2096. (UnM 9025205)Google Scholar
  2. Cassel, R. N. (1985). Systematic self-regulation of the neural system essential for peak performance and well-being. Psychology, A Quarterly Journal of Human Behavior, 22, 51–55.Google Scholar
  3. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1975). Play and intrinsic rewards. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 15, 41–63.Google Scholar
  4. Csikszentmihalyi, M. & Csikszentmihalyi, I. (1988). Optimal experience. New York: Cambridge.Google Scholar
  5. Covey, S.R. (1989). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change. New York: Fireside.Google Scholar
  6. Fobes, James L. (1986). Training lessons learned from peak performance episodes. (Report No. ARI-TR-711). Presideo of Monterey, CA: Army Research Institute for Behavioral and Social Sciences Field Unit. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 277 966)Google Scholar
  7. Garfield, C. (1986). Peak performers: The new heroes of American business. New York: William Morrow.Google Scholar
  8. Garfield, C. (1987). Peak performance in business. Training and Development Journal, 23, 54–59.Google Scholar
  9. Garfield, C. (1992). Second to none: How our smartest companies put people first. Homewood, IL: Business One Irwin.Google Scholar
  10. Garfield, C. & Bennett, H. (1984). Peak performance: Mental training of the world's greatest athletes. Los Angeles: Tarcher.Google Scholar
  11. Irizarry, J. (1988). The relationship of self-perceived peak performer attributes to job performance. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts) Dissertation Abstracts International, 49-12B, 5214. (Un M 8906295)Google Scholar
  12. Jackson, S. (1988). Positive performance states of athletes: Toward a conceptual understanding of peak performance. Unpublished master's thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.Google Scholar
  13. Korn, E.R., Pratt, G.J., & Lambrou, P.T. (1987). Hyper-performance. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  14. Lanier, L., Privette, G., Vodanovich, S., & Bundrick, C. M. (1996). Peak experience: Lasting consequences and breadth of occurrences among realtors, artists, and a comparison group. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 11, 781–791.Google Scholar
  15. Livingston, M. K. (1989). Mental discipline: The pursuit of peak performance. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Books.Google Scholar
  16. Maslow, A. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  17. Maslow, A. (1959). Cognition of being in the peak experiences. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 94, 43–66.Google Scholar
  18. Maslow, A. (1968). Toward a psychology of being (2nd ed.). Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
  19. Maslow, A. (1971). The further reaches of human nature. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  20. McClelland, D. (1961). The achieving society. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  21. McInman, A. & Grove, J.R. (1991). Peak moments in sport: A literature review. Quest, 43, 333–351.Google Scholar
  22. Mogar, R. (1967). Current status and future trends in psychedelic (LSD) research. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 2, 147–166.Google Scholar
  23. Privette, P. G. (1964). Factors associated with functioning which transcends modal behavior. Dissertation Abstracts, 25, 3406. (University Microfilms No. 64–11552).Google Scholar
  24. Privette, G. (1965). Transcendent functioning. Teachers College Record, 66, 733–739.Google Scholar
  25. Privette, G. (1968). Transcendent functioning: Full use of potentialities. In H. Otto, & J. Mann (Eds.). Ways of Growth. (pp. 213–223). New York: Grossman Press.Google Scholar
  26. Privette, G. (1981). Dynamics of peak performance. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 21, 57–67.Google Scholar
  27. Privette, G. (1982a). Experiential correlates of peak intellectual performance. Psychological Reports, 51, 323–330.Google Scholar
  28. Privette, G. (1982b). Peak performance in sports: A factorial topology. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 12, 51–60.Google Scholar
  29. Privette, G. (1983). Peak experience, peak performance, and flow: a comparative analysis of positive human experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 1361–1368.Google Scholar
  30. Privette, G. (1984). Experience Questionnaire. Pensacola, FL: University of West Florida.Google Scholar
  31. Privette, G. (1985). Experience as a component of personality theory: Phenomenological support. Psychological Reports, 57, 558.Google Scholar
  32. Privette, G. (1986). From peak performance and peak experience to failure and misery. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 2, 233–243.Google Scholar
  33. Privette, G., & Bundrick, C. (1987). Measurement of experience: Construct and content validity of the experience questionnaire. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 65, 315–332.Google Scholar
  34. Privette, G. & Bundrick, C. M. (1991). Peak experience, peak performance, and flow: Correspondence of personal descriptions and theoretical constructs. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 6, 169–188.Google Scholar
  35. Privette, G., & Bundrick, C. M. (1997). Psychological processes of peak, average, and failing performance in sport. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 28, 323–334.Google Scholar
  36. Privette, G., & Landsman, T. (1983). Factor analysis of peak performance: The full use of potential. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 195–200.Google Scholar
  37. Privette, G., & Sherry, D. (1986). Reliability and readability of questionnaire: Peak performance and peak experience. Psychological Reports, 58, 491–494.Google Scholar
  38. Waller, S. (1988). Alterations of consciousness in sports peak performance (Doctoral dissertation, Saybrook Institute, 1988) Dissertation Abstracts International, 49-10B, p. 4585.Google Scholar
  39. Williams, J. (1986). Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.Google Scholar
  40. Wilson, C. (1972). New pathways in psychology: Maslow and the post-Freudian revolution. New York: Taplinger.Google Scholar
  41. Yeagle, E., Privette, G. & Dunham, F. (1989). Highest happiness: An analysis of artists' peak experience. Psychological Reports, 65, 523–530.Google Scholar
  42. Young, J. A. (1994). Perceptions of attentional skills of elite junior tennis players: Toward a conceptual understanding of peak performance. Unpublished honour's thesis, Monash University, Australia.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frances Thornton
    • 1
  • Gayle Privette
    • 1
  • Charles M. Bundrick
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of West FloridaUSA

Personalised recommendations