, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 279-306

Associations Among Perceived Autonomy Support, Forms of Self-Regulation, and Persistence: A Prospective Study

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Abstract

According to self-determination theory, when the social context is autonomy supportive, people are motivated to internalize the regulation of important activities, and whereas when the context is controlling, self-determined motivation is undermined. A model that incorporates perceptions of coaches' interpersonal behaviors (autonomy support vs. control), 5 forms of regulation (intrinsic motivation, identified, introjected and external regulation, and amotivation), and persistence was tested with competitive swimmers (N = 369) using a prospective 3-wave design. Analyses using structural equation modeling revealed that experiencing relationships as controlling fostered non–self-determined forms of regulation (external regulation and amotivation). Greater levels of self-determined motivation occurred when relationships were experienced as autonomy supportive. Individuals who exhibited self-determined types of regulation at Time 1 showed more persistence at both Time 2 (10 months later) and Time 3 (22 months later). Individuals who were amotivated at Time 1 had the highest rate of attrition at both Time 2 and Time 3. Introjected regulation was a significant predictor of persistence at Time 2 but became nonsignificant at Time 3. External regulation was not a significant predictor of behavior at Time 2, but became negatively associated with persistence at Time 3. The findings are discussed in light of the determinants of the internalization process and the consequences of different forms of self-regulation for psychological functioning.