Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Well-Being Across Age : A Cross-Sectional General Population Study among 1709 Dutch Speaking Adults

According to self-determination theory, individual well-being is universally dependent upon the satisfaction of three basic psychological needs: autonomy, competence and relatedness. This study set out to further elucidate the relationship between basic psychological need satisfaction (BPNS) and well-being across age by (i) more closely examining the age distribution of BPNS, and (ii) investigating whether BPNS is comparably associated with well-being across all ages, as predicted by the universality assumption, while taking into account variability in other demographic factors.


A general population sample of Dutch speaking adults from The Netherlands and Belgium (N = 1709; Mage = 48.6 years, SD = 19.0, range 18–97) filled out a cross-sectional online or paper-and-pencil survey questionnaire, providing self-reports of BPNS and well-being, using the Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Frustration Scale and Mental Health Continuum-Short Form, respectively. Data analyses consisted of initial visual inspection using LOESS smoothed curve plotting, and subsequent model testing using multiple regression analyses. When correcting for other demographic factors, results showed a positive linear relationship between age and autonomy satisfaction, no significant relationship between age and competence satisfaction, and a slight positive cubic relationship between age and relatedness satisfaction (initial ‘peak’, followed by a slight decline and ‘dip’, and steady rise for later ages).


All basic psychological needs factors were positively linked to well-being in all domains, with associations generally comparable between adults of different ages, thus lending support to the universality assumption of self-determination theory. Despite distinct age distributions, all three basic psychological needs seem important for maintaining a sense of well-being throughout life.

Johan Lataster, Jennifer Reijnders, Mayke Janssens, Marianne Simons, Sanne Peeters & Nele Jacobs | 2022
In: Journal of Happiness Studies ; ISSN: 1389-4978 | January
Online ahead of print DOI: 10.1007/s10902-021-00482-2
Adults, Affected Populations, Aging, Belgians, Dutch, Mental health, Netherlands, Quality of Life, Research