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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2001 Feb;80(2):325-39.

What is satisfying about satisfying events? Testing 10 candidate psychological needs.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Missouri-Columbia, 65211, USA.


Three studies compared 10 candidate psychological needs in an attempt to determine which are truly most fundamental for humans. Participants described "most satisfying events" within their lives and then rated the salience of each of the 10 candidate needs within these events. Supporting self-determination theory postulates (Ryan & Deci, 2000)--autonomy, competence, and relatedness, were consistently among the top 4 needs, in terms of both their salience and their association with event-related affect. Self-esteem was also important, whereas self-actualization or meaning, physical thriving, popularity or influence, and money-luxury were less important. This basic pattern emerged within three different time frames and within both U.S. and South Korean samples and also within a final study that asked, "What's unsatisfying about unsatisfying events?" Implications for hierarchical theories of needs are discussed.

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