Basic Psychological Needs Scale

Scale Description

Central to self-determination theory is the concept of basic psychological needs that are assumed to the innate and universal. According to the theory, these needs--the needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness--must be ongoingly satisfied for people to develop and function in healthy or optimal ways (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Many of the propositions of SDT derive from the postulate of fundamental psychological needs, and the concept has proven essential for making meaningful interpretations of a wide range of empirically isolated phenomena.

The Basic Psychological Needs Scale is a family of scales: one that addresses need satisfaction in general in one's life, and others that address need satisfaction in specific domains. He we include the work domain and the interpersonal relations domain. The original scale had 21 items concerning the three needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Some studies have worked with only 9 items, namely, 3 items per subscale. Here, the general and the work versions of the scale have 21 items, whereas the interpersonal relations version has 9 items.

The Basic Need Satisfaction at Work Scale has been used most often (Baard, Deci, & Ryan, 2004; Deci, Ryan, Gagné, Leone, Usunov, & Kornazheva, 2001; Ilardi, Leone, Kasser, & Ryan, 1993; Kasser, Davey, & Ryan, 1992). The Basic Need Satisfaction in Relationships Scale was used in (La Guardia, Ryan, Couchman, & Deci, 2000). The Basic Need Satisfaction in Life Scale (i.e., the general scale) was used in Gagné (2003) and in Kashdan, Julian, Merritt, and Uswatte (2006). An adaptation of the scale for assessing need satisfaction in physical education classes was created and used by Ntoumanis (2005).


Baard, P. P., Deci, E. L., Ryan, R. M. (2004). Intrinsic need satisfaction: A motivational basis of performance and well-being in two work settings. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34 , 2045-2068.
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Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The "what" and "why" of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268.
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Deci, E. L., Ryan, R. M., Gagné, M., Leone, D. R., Usunov, J., & Kornazheva, B. P. (2001). Need satisfaction, motivation, and well-being in the work organizations of a former Eastern Bloc country. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 930-942.
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Gagné, M. (2003). The role of autonomy support and autonomy orientation in prosocial behavior engagement. Motivation and Emotion, 27, 199-223.
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Kashdan, T. B., Julian, T., Merritt, K., & Uswatte, G. (2006). Social anxiety and posttraumatic stress in combat veterens: Relations to well-being and character strengths. Behavior Research and Therapy, 44, 561-583.


La Guardia, J. G., Ryan, R. M., Couchman, C. E., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Within-person variation in security of attachment: A self-determination theory perspective on attachment, need fulfillment, and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 367-384.


Ilardi, B. C., Leone, D., Kasser, R., & Ryan, R. M. (1993). Employee and supervisor ratings of motivation: Main effects and discrepancies associated with job satisfaction and adjustment in a factory setting. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 23, 1789-1805.


Kasser, T., Davey, J., & Ryan, R. M. (1992). Motivation, dependability, and employee-supervisor discrepancies in psychiatric vocational rehabilitation settings. Rehabilitation Psychology, 37, 175-187.


Vlachopoulos, S. P., & Michailidou, S. (2006). Development and initial validation of a measure of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in exercise: The Basic psychological needs in exercise scale. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 103, 179-201.