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Session Overview
SYM-09: The Functional Relevance of Individual Differences in Needs for Well-Being Related Outcomes
Time: Wednesday, 29/Aug/2012: 9:00am - 10:30am
Session Chair: Barbara Flunger, University of Tuebingen
Discussant: Maarten Vansteenkiste, University of Gent
Organizer: Barbara Flunger, University of Tuebingen
Location: 454

Session Abstract

According to self-determination theory, all humans have a need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. The satisfaction of these needs should have positive consequences for well-being and other related outcomes. But is this effect influenced by individual differences in needs? Three studies explored whether need strength – explicitly or implicitly measured – functions as a moderator on the effect of need satisfaction on outcomes. Study 1 used implicit measures (applying motive disposition theory) to investigate whether need strength moderates the effect of need satisfaction on mood and interest/enjoyment in a 10-days diary study. Study 2 investigated the relationship between need satisfaction, need strength and well-being in four countries. The implemented explicit measures were content-matched to the scales of need satisfaction, assessing need strength as a person-specific disposition. Study 3 examined whether explicitly measured domain-specific need strength moderated the impact of need satisfaction on achievement emotions in the classroom context (physics) via an experimental design. The data of study 1 are currently gathered. In the other two studies, need satisfaction had a positive effect on well-being and joy, and a negative effect on boredom and frustration. However, need strength did not moderate the relationship between need satisfaction and outcomes. Thus, it seems that individuals with high need strength do not benefit more from need satisfaction in terms of higher well-being or higher positive emotions than individuals with low need strength. Consequently, the findings of the studies support the presumed universality of basic needs. Conclusions are discussed.


The interaction between need satisfaction and implicit needs in predicting mood and interest/enjoyment : a diary study

Jemima Bidee, Roland Pepermans, Tim Vantilborgh

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

According to Self-determination theory, satisfying the need for competence and relatedness (next to the need for autonomy) is a prerequisite for feeling psychologically healthy – making them basic psychological needs. In the present study, we aim to investigate whether people differ in the degree to which they have to satisfy these needs before experiencing those positive consequences. In this regard, we integrate principles of the Self-determination theory with the motive disposition tradition, in which individual differences in needs (“implicit motives”) are used to explain variation in human behavior and motivation. We expect that satisfaction of the competence need results in positive outcomes such as positive mood and interest/enjoyment, especially for people with a strong need for achievement. A similar moderating effect of need for affiliation is expected for the relationship between satisfaction of the need for relatedness and positive outcomes. These hypotheses are tested in a group of 100 youth leaders, who engaged in a 10-day diary study. Applying multilevel moderation modeling enables us to longitudinally examine the aforementioned relationships at both between-and within-persons levels of analysis. Since we are currently gathering our data, the conclusions for this study will only be available by June 2012.

Need satisfaction and need strength: an explicit and implicit approach

Jolene Van der Kaap- Deeder, Beiwen Chen, Maarten Vansteenkiste

Ghent University, Belgium

The satisfaction of the psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness is, according to Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000) essential for people’s optimal psychological development. Although many studies have provided evidence for this claim, two notable shortcomings can be mentioned. First, need satisfaction has mostly been measured at an explicit level and, second, the importance people attach to satisfying these needs (i.e. need strength) has received little attention. In the present contribution, we undertook a first attempt to address these two lacunae, thereby also examining the postulated universality claim of the psychological need satisfaction (Deci & Ryan, 2000).

In Study 1 the associations between psychological need satisfaction, need strength and well-being were examined in four culturally diverse countries (i.e., Belgium, China, Peru, and US). The results indicate that, across the four countries, psychological need satisfaction consistently related to higher psychological well-being, regardless of whether an individual values or desires need satisfaction.

Study 2 focuses on the implicit assessment of need satisfaction and need strength by relying on an adapted version of the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998). An experimental approach, based on the satisfaction or frustration of the need for competence, will be implemented to validate this newly-developed measure. Possible differences between explicit and implicit measures in both need satisfaction and need strength are of special interest, since such divergences may provide evidence for the additional benefits of an implicit measure. Results of Study 2 are expected by June.

Explicit need strength as a moderator for the relation between need satisfaction and achievement emotions?

Barbara Flunger, Johanna Pretsch

University of Koblenz - Landau, Germany

According to self-determination theory, the satisfaction of the basic needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness influences achievement emotions. The present study investigated whether explicitly measured domain-specific need strength moderated the impact of perceived need satisfaction on achievement emotions in the classroom context (physics lesson) using an experimental design. Teachers in an experimental group received information on how to support students’ autonomy in a standardized teaching unit and the procedure. Teachers in a control group only received information on the procedure of a standardized neutral teaching unit. Both the autonomy-supportive and the neutral teaching units had the same topic. During the teaching of the standardized lessons, 420 students attending 9th grade completed state measures of self-attributed need strength, perceived need satisfaction, achievement emotions (joy, boredom, frustration) and perceived autonomy support. According to the students` ratings, trained teachers displayed significantly more autonomy-support than did non-trained teachers. The positive achievement emotion joy was enhanced in the experimental group and reduced in the control group. The negative emotions boredom and frustration were reduced in the experimental group and enhanced in the control group. Condition, perceived autonomy and perceived competence significantly predicted the changes in the achievement emotions. There were no significant interactions between actual need strength and corresponding need satisfaction to predict achievement emotions.

Conclusions are discussed.

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