Autonomy support, basic need satisfaction and the optimal functioning of adult male and female sport participants: A test of basic needs theory

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Grounded in Basic Needs Theory (BNT; Ryan and Deci, American Psychologist, 55, 68–78, 2000a), the present study aimed to: (a) test a theoretically-based model of coach autonomy support, motivational processes and well-/ill being among a sample of adult sport participants, (b) discern which basic psychological need(s) mediate the link between autonomy support and well-/ill-being, and (c) explore gender invariance in the hypothesized model. Five hundred and thirty nine participants (Male = 271;Female = 268; Mage = 22.75) completed a multi-section questionnaire tapping the targeted variables. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) analysis revealed that coach autonomy support predicted participants’ basic need satisfaction for autonomy, competence and relatedness. In turn, basic need satisfaction predicted greater subjective vitality when engaged in sport. Participants with low levels of autonomy were more susceptible to feeling emotionally and physically exhausted from their sport investment. Autonomy and competence partially mediated the path from autonomy support to subjective vitality. Lastly, the results supported partial invariance of the model with respect to gender.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-199
Number of pages11
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number3
Early online date30 Sep 2008
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2008


  • Sport motivation, Psychological development, Well-being, Coach-created environment, Mediation, Gender invariance, Self-determination theory, school physical education, of fit indexes, measurement invariance, motivational climate, psychological needs, happiness, behavior, burnout, persistence