What makes for a good day? Competence and autonomy in the day and in the person

Kennon M. Sheldon, Richard Ryan, Harry T. Reis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

609 Scopus citations


This diary study examined the proposal that satisfaction of two psychological needs, competence and autonomy, leads to daily well-being. Between-subjects analyses indicated that participants higher in trait competence and trait autonomy tended to have "better" days on average. Independently, within-subject analyses showed that good days were those in which participants felt more competent and autonomous in their daily activities, relative to their own baselines. Other predictors of daily well-being included gender, whether the day fell on a weekend, and the amount of negative affect and physical symptomatology felt the day before. Although past diary studies have tended to focus on threats to daily well-being, the authors suggest that psychological need concepts offer promise for understanding its positive sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1270-1279
Number of pages10
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1996


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