We integrate John Rawls’ concept of primary goods with self-determination theory, to examine the links between people’s perceptions of primary goods (i.e., views of society as providing access to the necessities of a meaningful life), basic psychological needs, and well-being. In Study 1 (N = 762, countries = Australia, the United States, South Africa, India, and the Philippines) and Study 2 (N = 1479, groups = ethnic minority, sexual minority, political group, religious group), we used partial least squares structural equation modelling to assess associations between primary goods’ perceptions and wellness, and the intermediary role of basic psychological needs. Across groups, primary goods’ perceptions linked positively to well-being (average effect size = 0.48), and negatively to ill-being (average effect size = −0.46), mediated strongly by basic psychological needs (average percentage mediated: 53% Study 1, 68% Study 2). Results signify the importance of primary goods’ perceptions to individuals’ wellness.
- positive psychology
- social justice