Research Paper

Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 685-700

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Spirituality as an Essential Determinant for the Good Life, its Importance Relative to Self-Determinant Psychological Needs

  • Dirk van DierendonckAffiliated withRotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Email author 


This study focuses on the relevance of spirituality as an essential element for the Good Life. Despite spirituality’s prominence in people’s lives and cultures, it has been mostly neglected in psychological needs theories. This paper investigates the value of spirituality compared to that of the three basic psychological needs of self-determination theory: relatedness, competence and autonomy. In a scenario study design, participants in two samples (students and train passengers) were asked to judge a survey on the personal well-being of an imaginary person. The results show that spirituality positively contributes to the qualification of a good life, in terms of desirability and moral goodness. In addition, the crucial role of relatedness was confirmed.


Spirituality Psychological needs Self-determination theory The good life