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Self-Imposed ‘Ignorance’: Motivation, Consequences, and Solutions

Series: Blocks to Meaning: Leveraging Logoteleology’s Identity Model

Luis A. Marrero, M.A., RODP, LLP (© 2019, 2022)

December 2018

The Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose trains, certifies, and licenses coaches, therapists, counselors and consultants around the world on Meaningful Purpose Psychology or Logoteleology (or its cut version, Logotelogy) methodology. This article, even though directed to our student cohort as a study guide, is shared with the public for the benefit of those interested in learning about Logotelogy and its approach to therapy, coaching, counseling, and consulting. The article assumes students are intimately familiar with the terms of the Logotelogy science. For that reason, guest readers unfamiliar with Logotelogy’s concepts and definitions will benefit from reading my book: The Path to a Meaningful Purpose: Psychological Foundations of Logoteleology, and additional articles in my blog.



Marrero, Luis A., The Path to a Meaningful Purpose: Psychological Foundations of Logoteleology —

Chapter 1: What Brought Us Together. Chapter 5: The Will to Meaning


Leveraging the Logoteleology Identity Model, this paper explains the role of motivation in meaning calcification and meaning-sclerosis. In the following sections I will review

  1. how meanings determine and govern motivation and behavior; and hence can influence consequence (by enticing a response)

  2. motivation options and their impact

  3. methods to encourage responsible, meaningful and courageous self-determination


Among other contributions, Logoteleologists (i.e., Meaningful Purpose Psychology practitioners) facilitate processes where individuals, groups, organizations, and nations discover how they could

  1. block self-awareness and understanding to resist or avoid facing reality and improvement

  2. courageously and truthfully confront these obstacles

  3. understand the validity (meaningfulness as the standard) of the operating meaning set construct

  4. improve discernment and choice selection

  5. live a genuine, self-determined meaningful life free of delusions and other types of meaningless meanings

Meanings Set the Agenda

It is an axiom of Meaningful Purpose Psychology (MPP) that the meaning granted to the self, to another person, object, or concept, as well as situations and context, determine and spur a type of motivation that in turn fuels purposeful behavior that brings about a consequence. We illustrate this axiom through the model

Meaning –> Motivation –> Purpose –> Consequence

(Me –> Mo –> P –> C)

For instance, because I intend to publish this article by month’s end, I am committed to setting two to three hours a day to research and write.

  1. My meaning aim is to publish this article.

  2. My motivation is proved by a willing commitment to exert energy, enthusiasm, and discipline to carry on the task.

  3. Motivation fuels my purpose in action through research, thinking, creating, innovating, and writing.

The ancestor of every action is a thought. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, First Series, 1841
People act on the basis of meanings. Roy F. Baumeister, Ph.D.
Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. King Solomon, Proverbs 4:23, New Century Version
Meanings are not self-determined by situations, but we determine ourselves by the meaning we give to situations. Alfred Adler

The Role of Motivation on Self-imposed Ignorance

This article addresses the role motivation plays on deliberate ignorance. More specifically, I will explain how logoteleologists assess motivation – through the Logoteleology Motivation Model — to understand self-imposed ignorance, and hence resist change.

In Logoteleology there are four types of motivation:

  1. Will (intrinsic)

  2. Drive (extrinsic)

  3. Amotivation (extrinsic / intrinsic)

  4. Tactical Retreat (intrinsic)

The Willing Individual

In discussions, the willing individual is motivated by curiosity and intellectual honesty. He or she will present their case, not to win, but rather to validate his or her position until contrarian evidence emerges to question one’s perspective. Debate norms are built on mutual respect and free of wrong attributions. One’s position is a comparison starting point following critical thinking principles; not a defend-at-all-cost trench. If the willing individual has no position, stake or evidence to argue a point, her or his attitude and disposition is to listen to understand. Feelings remain positive, absent of jealousy, defensiveness, and antagonism. The goal of the willing individual is to learn, to consider both reasonable subjective and objective reality, to suspend early judgment, and to get closer to or reach certainty and truth. When one party discovers he or she was wrong on a concept or conclusion, the individual expresses genuine appreciation and happiness for being enlightened. Being wrong and ignorant is not considered a fault. Rather, a flawed character is shown by being stubborn and rebellious when presented with contrary irrefutable evidence or by pretending to know despite being ignorant. Being ill-informed and unaware is viewed as an opportunity to learn, not something to be ashamed about. His or her posture is characterized by non-defensive openness, active listening, interest, and a willingness to change and improve. Concerning the other, his or her life position is “We both bring a perspective to be explored” or the Transactional Analysis (TA) Life Position, “I am OK – You are OK.” In Logoteleology method, as a rule, a willing motivation pursues and follows a meaningful and genuine goal (win-win) and process.

Example: Lynn had never questioned her religious beliefs and had grown to accept as true that her brand of religion – compared to others — was correct. While in high school and college, Lynn was exposed to people who followed different beliefs to hers. Later in life, as an adult, Lynn had the opportunity to travel across various continents. After visiting several countries, she realized that religious affiliation was for the most part determined by one’s geographical, socio-cultural, psycho-social (i.e., family), and historical context, not a well-thought and researched personal choice. After realizing this fact, Lynn engaged others with a diverse background with higher sensitivity and respect. She also took interest studying history and archeology of religion, as well as comparative religion. Lynn remains intellectually curious and open.

The Driven Individual

In debates, the driven individual is determined to win, not to lose face or to be exposed as wrong, and to intimidate and demean their opponent. Many times, the driven individual needs to be the center of attention, and all their conduct is consistent with his or her narcissistic behavior. Contrarian evidence is ignored, minimized, dismissed or ridiculed. On the other hand, this individual tends to inflate her or his importance, reputation, and arguments. Others would perceive feelings such as disdain, arrogance, anger, fear, and condescending. The behavior of the driven individual includes the use of sarcasm, intimidation or bullying, interruptions, and an unwillingness to answer difficult questions. His or her goal is to force submission, confuse, deflect, and remain unyielding. Their posture is to be on offense and to offend. Concerning the other, his or her life position is “I am better than you” or the TA Life Position, “I am OK – You are not OK.”

Also, among other anxiety disorders, driven behavior includes compulsive (e.g., Type A personality) and obsessive behavior (e.g., Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior [OCB]). Type-A personality traits such as anxiety, hard-driving, competitiveness, impatience, unrealistic ambition, and a need for control that has been associated with cardiovascular disease. Disorders such as OCB are irrational and can fuel unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and behaviors covered in the previous paragraph.

“For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless — a miserable business! King Solomon, Ecclesiastes 4: 8

In Logoteleology method, driven motivation pursues a meaningless goal and process.


  1. Gustav is a prominent and gifted architect. He is always in social media and doing presentations in professional forums around the world. A prolific writer, he makes his presence felt in architectural journals and magazines and has published books showcasing his work. He boasts about his philanthropic gifts and makes sure others know about them. He wants to be thought of as a good person and as an exceptional architect, however, he is dismissive and openly critical of other architects who stand out and follow a different design philosophy and style. He feels offended when others ignore or dismiss his noble actions and work. He likes others to request him to write reviews of their work, thus making him a prominent figure worth being consulted. While he would deny it if confronted – and typical of a person of low meaning self-awareness — Gustav’s hidden (i.e., subconscious schemas or psychological scripts) meaning task is to be the center of attention, to be considered a good person, and to diminish others’ contribution, particularly when such contribution could compete with his image and work. Unknown to him, Gustav’s purposeful actions are centered, fed and driven by an insatiable need to be above others in intellect, kindness, and talent. These centered and drive-based actions – reveal the real meaning aim. If these meaningless meaning aims are stronger than a desire to be genuine and meaningful, the meaningless will prevail. When the meaningless rules, it resist challenging the worthless status quo and hence improving.

  2. Kota works overtime every single day and goes to work even on weekends at his company’s site in Kobe, Japan. He tends to volunteer for additional hours and fill his plate with work, particularly in areas where he lacks knowledge and experience. His apparent justification is to gain experience, learn new skills, and to prove himself as a valuable contributor. He wants to provide his family with financial security through job security and frequent promotions. One of the secondary consequences of overwork has been symptoms of burnout — such as recurrent head and backaches due to stress and lack of sleep. His doctor has warned Kota of karoshi – or working himself to death. Kota’s meaning beliefs about work and what it means to be a worker and family man are driving him on his tragic course. He is driven to meet his company’s expectations at the expense of his health and life. From a Transactional Analysis (TA) view of life, he operates out of the “I am not OK – You are OK” or “I Lose — You Win” option.

The Amotivated Individual

The amotivated individual has ‘checked-out’ for any number of reasons. He or she can refuse to engage because of

  1. Helplessness. Inability to help oneself or take a stand in defense of someone or something. For instance, as a result of low self-esteem and lacking the courage to debate. Typical feelings include apprehension, anxiety, uneasiness, embarrassment, timidity, and fear. The TA Life Position is “I am Not OK – You are OK.”

Example: Bill is a new employee in a financial services organization. His supervisor has taught him a process to accomplish a task. When a peer questions why he follows that process, Bill replies, “Because this is what I was told to do.” Bill has no experience and hence is in no position to question his supervisor’s approach.

2. Apathy. Absence or suppression of passion, reaction, or excitement. A lack of interest in the subject and the person(s) involved. Apathy does not necessarily equate to being impartial. Feelings, thoughts, and behaviors include indifference, lack of interest, irrelevance, uncaring, aloofness, irreverent, reserved, distancing, cynicism, and isolation (e.g., side-lined).

Apathy can be

  1. Willing and genuine. Genuine indifference entails an honest lack of interest on the subject and can be expressed as dull and unappealing. While they recognized the situation is “not their cup of tea,” they do understand and respect others’ likings and interests.

Example of willing and genuine apathy: Jane decided not to go to the football game with her partner, Charlie. Jane finds football boring and uninteresting. Instead, she would rather meet with her investors’ club friends to learn how to leverage the stock and bond markets for financial security.

  1. Driven and disingenuous. A person driven and insincere operates out of a hidden agenda that can include a form of disengagement by ignoring and through passive-aggressive disdain or resistance.

Example of driven and disingenuous apathy: Douglas decides not to attend a diversity celebration at work because, as he states, “It does not celebrate my particular diversity.” He shows no interest in learning about other races, nationalities and gender issues out of spite.

3. Rebellion. An attitude fed by fear and anger designed to resist. It assumes a defensive posture. Its goal is not to be controlled or intimidated by another. A rebellious attitude includes acting out of spite, and not giving in despite being on the wrong side of the argument.

Example. A Federal Government has shut down based on a dispute amongst two political parties. Mary has been asked to work despite not being paid for her services and personally threatened by her supervisor that absences can lead to sacking or losing her job. Incensed by her supervisor’s threats, Mary removes and throws her employee badge to the floor and after yelling “I quit” barges out of the office.

4. Distrustful.

Genuine distrust. A person can have genuine misgivings without judging. He or she is ready to give the benefit of the doubt until proven different. A cautious yet respectful and fair approach is considered prudent. In unknown territory and when dealing with strangers it is sensible to be careful and analytical. Hence, not rushing to action is not a means to delay, deflect or resist. Instead, it is a natural and reasonable behavior for understanding and trust building when meeting someone for the first time. Feelings, thoughts, and actions include genuine and prudent hesitation, fear, and uncertainty. In debate, the posture is to ‘read’ the other person in terms of who he or she is – particularly noticing his or her attitudes, intentions and style. The listener needs to determine to what degree the other party is genuine, and if he or she should be taken seriously. One’s ultimate motivational approach will depend on the meaning given to the other person. This meaning will be based on how the observed party acts.

Example of genuine distrust. Sammy listened to the sales pitch from a new consulting firm. When asked by the consultants if he would like to move forward and contract the work, Sammy states he will get back to the consultants within a week with an answer. Sammy will listen to other proposals, and check references before deciding.

  1. Disingenuous Distrust. Distrust is disingenuous when the intent is to control and manipulate at the expense of others (e.g., narcissism; Machiavellian) or because of “outgroup bias.” Outgroup bias is unfair negative prejudice about people that are not part of one’s group. The task is to have the upper hand by finding weaknesses and flaws to be exploited and to positively exaggerate one’s standing or view. The other party is guilty until proven innocent and considered in some way as an adversary and contrarian. Feelings, thoughts, and behaviors include suspicion, misgiving, disdain, anger, resentment, envy, and among others, being mean, immoral, and misleading.

Examples of disingenuous distrust.

  1. Beatrice is angry that she was passed over for a promotion. The company decided to hire an external candidate, Jose, for the role she aspired to. Rather than being supportive of Jose’s transition and success, Beatrice holds back from building a genuine relationship of trust with Jose. Instead, she wants Jose to fail to prove the company wrong. She sees Jose as a threat to her professional aspirations.

  2. Shawn lives in a white neighborhood. He calls the police about ‘a suspicious group of people’ when people of color show up to play basketball in the local park.

Tactical Retreat

Tactical retreat is when a person judiciously disengages from the meaningless. It is generally a sign of sound judgment, emotional intelligence, and personal confidence (e.g., self-efficacy). Different from other types of disengagement, a tactical retreat is intrinsic, courageous, considered, discerning, and defensible. A tactical retreat is not motivated by a desire to avoid confronting another or different point of view; nor is it motivated by manipulation, insecurity, fear, anger, or envy. People who practice tactical retreat are genuinely honest, and unafraid to be wrong or found to be ignorant. Instead, they disengage to avoid lose-lose outcomes, unethical behavior, situations, and individuals. They generally will feel self-possessed, calmed, centered, mindful, confident or self-assured, and buoyant. Their behavior is for the most part courteous, respectful, humble, curious, and empathic.

In the Logoteleology method, tactical retreat pursues a meaningful goal and process.

Example. Juan joins his peers for an after-hours social over dinner and beer. The evening has been fun and entertaining until Jane had one too many beers and starts to say offensive things about their supervisor. Juan calls it a night hinting to the rest of the group that this is an excellent time to end the social before things get out of hand. He also hopes that others too leave to prevent Jane from continuing to drink and getting in serious trouble.

As explained, except for genuine apathy and distrust, demotivation follows a meaningless goal and process.

Among other options, logoteleologists analyze types and strength of motivation to help the client understand his or her meanings. This is done through a reflective process using psychometrics and questions. Through psycho-education, the client is guided to understand the meaning-motivation options and their consequences. The client also discovers how they prevent themselves from perceiving and acting on reality. Once they confront reality, the client is guided to assess the content of their meaning set to determine their readiness to improve. The Logoteleology method first removes obstacles to change before the change is implemented. This includes helping the client embrace improvement through a willing disposition, rather than a driven or amotivated one. The goal is to aid the client to develop the habit of making willing meaningful choices (i.e., meaningful self-determination) and reduce and avoid meaningless options. The following section will explain how.

The Role of the AVR Method© in Meaningful Self-determination

Through the AVR Method© Logoteleologists use the meaning set construct to help individuals

  1. Become aware of meaning content

  2. Analyze meaning content

  3. Validate the quality of the meaning (e.g., meaningful or meaningless)

  4. Redecide to improve meaning content where it makes sense

  5. Chose to replace meaning content

  6. Reintegrate, restore and reconcile relationships

  7. Reinforce or Sustain the new and meaningful meaning content

Leveraging the AVR Method©, the logoteleologist helps the client process the meaning that is given to the self, others, the context, and the situation. For instance, by asking these type of sample questions using the Logoteleology meaning construct:

  1. Values

o What is the ethical and moral code I follow when discussing challenging topics?

o What is the content and quality of my code of ethics?

o What do I consider to be right and what do I believe to be wrong?

o How does my disputant deserve to be treated during this process?

o When confronted with irrefutable evidence that contradicts my beliefs or my ‘truth,’ am I ready to cede?

o Am I truthful?

o Do I have the courageous humility and integrity to say, “I am wrong, and you are right” and “I am sorry” when warranted?

  1. Beliefs

o What is my thesis? What is my truth about this subject?

o What evidence supports my thesis?

o How sound is my evidence?

o Where did my beliefs come from?

o Did I prove this to myself or am I going along, following traditions and teachings from others? (“If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for me.” And, “Everyone else does/believes it.”)

o Why do I feel anxious when the subject comes up?

o Am I thoroughly knowledgeable about and competent on the other parties’ thesis and supporting evidence?

o Am I here to win or to get to the truth?

o Am I here to win or to become a better, wiser, smarter and genuine person?

  1. Feelings

o When the contrarian presents her or his case, what feelings do I experience?

o How intense is what I feel? What do these feelings mean?

o What feelings do I feel about the topic?

o What feelings do I feel toward my fellow debater?

o How are my feelings congruent with my values and beliefs?

o Are my feelings positive, curious, and do they show interest or are they belligerent and defensive in some way? Why would that be so?

  1. Attitudes

o When discussing the topic, what am I predisposed to do?

o Embrace the subject with interest and curiosity?

o Reject and avoid talking about the subject?

o Defend my position at all cost while rejecting contrarian evidence or perspectives?

o Submit to others views due to my ignorance or unwillingness to engage?

o Remain quiet to learn?

o Remain neutral and open-minded to all sides and perspectives?

  1. Attributions

o What attributions do I make about the other person and group she or he belongs?

o What attributions do I make about myself and the group or position I represent?

o How do I describe others when I am upset?

o Why do I make such attributions? What do they mean?

  1. Aims

o If I follow through, or if I have followed through, on the answers to the previous questions, how could this, or did it, end?

o What do I ultimately want from this conversation or debate? Or, what do I eventually want from this engagement?

o What type of motivation do I have toward this topic and/or person?

o How do I explain my motivation type?

Meaningful self-determination is symptomatic of a person who

  1. operates from a willing motivational disposition

  2. confronts his or her meanings using the meaning construct and AVR Method© or similar approaches

  3. can prove and affirm his or her meanings, and remain congruent between meaning and behavior

  4. humbly accepts error, embraces the new meaning, and behaves accordingly, no matter the price

Logoteleologists use Logoteleology psychometrics and methods to diagnose and treat meaning self-imposed ignorance.

Identifying Your Self-imposed Ignorance Strategy

Given the above content, here are some questions for your self-reflection and meaningful self-determination:

  1. What topics do I ignore, resist, fight or deflect?

  2. Why do I ignore, resist, fight or deflect each one of those topics?

  3. If I ignore, resist, fight or deflect a person, what meaning do I give him or her? What or who does he or she represent?

  4. Under which conditions or circumstances do I ignore, resist, fight or deflect?

  5. Can I competently explain my contrarian’s position to his or her satisfaction?

  6. If I were proven wrong, what would I gain and what would I lose?

  7. What are the risks and pressures I would encounter if I aligned myself with reality and truth?

  8. (Sample) Meaning set questions

  9. What do I feel when faced with the topic? [Feeling]

  10. What is my attitude (like/don’t like) toward the issue? [Attitude]

  11. What assumptions am I making about the topic or person? [Beliefs]

  12. How competent am I on the subject I ignore, resist, fight or deflect? [Beliefs]

  13. Which ethical code, norm or moral value is being or would be violated? [Values]

  14. What attributions do I make about people who differ from my position? [Attributions]

  15. Given the answers to the previous questions, what do I conclude or decide to do? (Aim)

Motivation Options and Consequences

Logoteleology came to be as the result of a paradox. Why, despite a wealth of knowledge, humanity suffers? Suffering and other human challenges are for the most part human-made. Just stated, humanity suffers because – as a species — it means to. Period. If you understand the logoteleology identity model, you can see how consequence is the result of meanings. The meanings we give to self, others, situations, context, etc. rule outcomes.

Meaning –> Motivation –> Purpose –> Consequence

To change consequence, merely change the meaning and purpose (i.e., behavior). Improvement and thriving are impossible if individuals, groups, organizations, and nations choose to remain blind to reality and reject meaningful choices. Understanding Logoteleology’s view of motivation as one method to understand meaning aim can help the client be more insightful of his or her meanings, including how he or she resists selecting meaningful choices. The Logoteleology AVR Method© helps reveal self-imposed ignorance and assists the client in following a whole meaningful path to thriving in life.

How Can I Become a Certified Logoteleologist?

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© 2019 and 2021, Luis A. Marrero and Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose. All rights reserved.

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