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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Nov;101(5):1106-23. doi: 10.1037/a0024952.

Wanting, having, and needing: integrating motive disposition theory and self-determination theory.

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Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


Four studies explored the motivational and experiential dynamics of psychological needs, applying both self-determination theory and motive disposition theory. In all 4 studies, motive dispositions toward achievement and affiliation ("wanting" particular experiences) predicted corresponding feelings of competence and relatedness ("having" those experiences). Competence and relatedness in turn predicted well-being, again indicating that these 2 experiences may really be "needed." Illuminating how wanting gets to having, in Studies 2 and 3, participants reported greater self-concordance for motive-congruent goals, which, in longitudinal Study 3, predicted greater attainment of those goals and thus enhanced well-being. Study 4 replicated selected earlier results using an implicit as well as an explicit motive disposition measure. Supporting the presumed universality of competence and relatedness needs, in no studies did motive dispositions moderate the effects of corresponding need-satisfaction on well-being. Discussion focuses on a "sequential process" model of psychological needs that views needs as both motives that instigate and outcomes that reward behavior.

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