Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 871–884 | Cite as

Exploring the regulation of need-satisfying goals: A baseline model

  • M. Joy McClureEmail author
  • John E. Lydon
Original Paper


Intrinsic goals fulfill fundamental psychological needs for relatedness, competence, and autonomy. They tend to be self-determined, effectively pursued, and contribute to well-being. But even need-satisfying goals are pursued in the context of finite resources: How do we prioritize amongst multiple need-satisfying goals? Integrating self-determination theory with other needs theories, we proposed a baseline model whereby goals that are predominately relevant to relatedness would be prioritized over those predominately relevant to competence or autonomy. 202 participants completed a web survey about personal goals, including a goal sacrifice measure capturing within-person prioritization. Relatedness-predominant goals were prioritized over competence- and autonomy-predominant goals; this pattern was not accounted for by between-need differences in commitment and motivation regulation. People need autonomy, competence, and relatedness for optimal functioning, but in the face of limited resources they may prioritize goals that are predominately relevant to relatedness.


Goal regulation Psychological needs Relatedness Competence Autonomy Intrinsic goals 



Funding were provided by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Fonds de Recherche du Québec-Société et Culture.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gordon F. Derner School of PsychologyAdelphi UniversityGarden CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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