Self-Determination Theory and Diminished Functioning: The Role of Interpersonal Control and Psychological Need Thwarting

KJ Bartholomew, Nikolaos Ntoumanis, RM Ryan, Jos Bosch, Cecilie Thogersen-Ntoumani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

453 Citations (Scopus)
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Drawing from self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2002), three studies explored the social-environmental conditions that satisfy versus thwart psychological needs and, in turn, impact psychological functioning and well/ill-being. In cross-sectional Studies 1 and 2, structural equation modeling analyses supported latent factor models in which need satisfaction was predicted by athletes’ perceptions of autonomy support and need thwarting was better predicted by perceived coach control. Athletes’ perceptions of need satisfaction predicted positive outcomes associated with sport participation (vitality and positive affect) whereas perceptions of need thwarting more consistently predicted maladaptive outcomes (disordered eating, burnout, depression, negative affect, and physical symptoms). In addition, athletes’ perceptions of psychological need thwarting were significantly associated with perturbed physiological arousal (elevated levels of secretory immunoglobulin A) prior to training. The final study involved the completion of a diary and supported the relations observed in the cross-sectional studies at a daily level. These findings have important implications for the operationalization and measurement of interpersonal styles and psychological needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1459-1473
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011


  • control
  • well-being
  • ill-being
  • psychological needs
  • autonomy support
  • self-determination theory


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