Basic psychological needs’ antecedents and outcomes: a contexts analysis from a Self-Determination Theory perspective

Simona Sireno, Federica Papa, Marzia Nocito, Ilaria Meneghini


Self-determination theory is a recently developed theoretical framework (Ryan & Deci, 2017) which considers organisms as active and intrinsically growth-oriented. It suggests that engaging in interesting activities, increasing one's skills, and being part of social groups are all elements that characterize the adaptive evolution of human organism. To realize these natural inclinations, a supportive environment is required, where three universal psychological needs can be satisfied: need for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Social environments, such as family, school, and work, can encourage self-determination and intrinsic motivation through needs satisfaction, or on the contrary, harm self-determination and foster forms of extrinsic motivation through needs frustration. Through the examination of the most significant contexts, this paper identifies antecedents and outcomes that anticipate and follow satisfaction and frustration of basic psychological needs, to promote psychosocial well-being and prevent psychopathologies.

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