On psychological growth and vulnerability: Basic psychological need satisfaction and need frustration as a unifying principle

Maarten Vansteenkiste, Richard M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1115 Scopus citations

Abstract

Humans have a potential for growth, integration, and well-being, while also being vulnerable to defensiveness, aggression, and ill-being. Self-determination theory (R. M. Ryan & E. L. Deci, 2000, Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development and well-being, American Psychologist, Vol. 55, pp. 68-78) argues that satisfaction of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness both fosters immediate well-being and strengthens inner resources contributing to subsequent resilience, whereas need frustration evokes illbeing and increased vulnerabilities for defensiveness and psychopathology. We briefly review recent research indicating how contextual need support and the experience of need satisfaction promote well-being and different growth manifestations (e.g., intrinsic motivation, internalization), as well as a rapidly growing body of work relating need thwarting and need frustration to ill-being, pursuit of need substitutes, and various forms of maladaptive functioning. Finally, we discuss research on differences in autonomous self-regulation and mindfulness, which serve as factors of resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-280
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Psychotherapy Integration
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2013

Keywords

  • Autonomy
  • Growth
  • Psychological need satisfaction and frustration
  • Psychopathology
  • Self-determination theory

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