Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 444–456

Different pathways, same effects: Autonomous goal regulation is associated with subjective well-being during the post-school transition


    • Pavillon des sciences de l’éducationUniversité Laval
  • Oliver Lüdtke
    • Humboldt University
    • University of Tübingen
  • Philip Parker
    • University of Tübingen
    • University of Western Sydney
  • Ulrich Trautwein
    • University of Tübingen
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11031-012-9328-z

Cite this article as:
Litalien, D., Lüdtke, O., Parker, P. et al. Motiv Emot (2013) 37: 444. doi:10.1007/s11031-012-9328-z


Using self-determination theory as a theoretical framework, this study examines the associations between autonomous goal regulation and subjective well-being (life satisfaction, positive and negative affect, self-esteem) during the post-school transition. The sample consisted of 2,284 academic track students (62 % female) in Germany who answered a questionnaire at the end of high school and again 2 years later, allowing us to differentiate three post-school trajectories (university, vocational training, not in education). Structural equation modeling showed that autonomous goal regulation measured at Time 1 positively predicted Time 2 life satisfaction, positive affect, self-esteem, and autonomous goal regulation and negatively predicted negative affect, controlling for construct stability. However, subjective well-being indicators at Time 1 did not predict autonomous goal regulation at Time 2. Multigroup analyses indicated comparable associations between goal regulation and subjective well-being across groups, highlighting the strength and generalizability of the effect of autonomous goal regulation on subjective well-being during the post-school transition.


Self-determination theoryPersonal goalsWell-beingPost-school transition

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012