Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 245–266 | Cite as

A Multivariate Analysis of the Self-Determination of Adolescents

  • Laura Nota
  • Salvatore Soresi
  • Lea Ferrari
  • Micheal L. WehmeyerEmail author
Research Paper


Self-determination is a general psychological construct within the organizing structure of theories of human agentic behavior. People who are self-determined act volitionally to serve as the causal agent in their lives. To provide a fuller understanding of the self-determination of adolescents, this study collected data on self-determination, quality of life, self-efficacy, and assertiveness for more than 1,400 Italian adolescents. We conducted a series of Multivariate Analyses of Variance to examine the relationships among, differences between, and associations with self-determination, including any differences as a function of age and gender as well as differences in quality of life, self-efficacy, and assertiveness as a function of level of selfdetermination. We also examined which quality of life factors were associated with enhanced self-determination and self-efficacy. Findings support the importance of self-determination to quality of life and enhanced self-efficacy.


Self-determination Quality of life Self-efficacy Adolescents Assertiveness 


  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Alberti, R., & Emmons, E. (2001). Your perfect right: Assertiveness and equality in your life and relationships (8th ed.). Atascadero, CA: Impact Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. Andrich, D. (1988). Rash models for measurement. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Antaramian, S. P., Huebner, E. S., & Valois, R. F. (2008). Adolescent life satisfaction. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 57, 112–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arrindell, W. A., de Groot, P. M., & Walburg, J. A. (1984). De Schaal voor Interpersoonlijk Gedrag (SIG); Handleiding Deel I [SIB–Scale for Interpersonal Behavior]. Lisse, The Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger.Google Scholar
  6. Arrindell, W., Nota, L., Sanavio, E., Sica, C., & Soresi, S. (2004). SIB–Valutazione del comportamento interpersonale e assertivo [SIB–Scale for Interpersonal Behavior]. Trento: Edizioni Erickson.Google Scholar
  7. Axelsson, L., & Ejlertsson, G. (2002). Self-reported health, self-esteem and social support among young unemployed people: A population-based study. International Journal of Social Welfare, 11, 111–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy. The exercise of control. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.Google Scholar
  9. Bandura, A., Pastorelli, C., Barbaranelli, C., & Caprara, G. V. (1999). Self-efficacy pathways to childhood depression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 258–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bisegger, C., Cloetta, B., von Rueden, U., Abel, T., Ravens-Sieberer, U., & Group, European. Kidscreen. (2005). Health related quality of life: Gender differences in childhood and adolescence. Sozial und Praventivmedizin, 50, 281–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Blustein, D. L. (2006). The psychology of working: A new perspective for counseling, career development, and public policy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  13. Boggiano, A. K., Flink, C., Shields, A., Seelbach, A., & Barrett, M. (1993). Use of techniques promoting students’ self-determination: Effects on students’ analytic problem-solving skills. Motivation and Emotion, 17, 319–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Borthwick-Duffy, S. A. (1992). Quality of life and quality of care in mental retardation. In L. Rowitz (Ed.), Mental retardation in the year 2000 (pp. 52–66). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  15. Campbell, A., Converse, P., & Rogers, W. (1976). The quality of American life. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  16. Cavallo, F., Zambon, A., Borraccino, A., Raven-Sieberer, U., Torsheim, T., & Lemma, P. (2006). Girls growing through adolescence have a higher risk of poor health. Quality of Life Research, 15, 1577–1585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  18. Cummins, R. A. (2003). Normative life satisfaction: Measurement issues and a homeostatic model. Social Indicators Research, 64, 225–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Davis, E., Shelly, A., Waters, E., Makinnon, A., Reddihough, D., Boyd, R., et al. (2009). Quality of life of adolescents with cerebral palsy: Perspectives of adolescents and parents. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 51, 193–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 19, 109–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2002). Handbook of self-determination research. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
  22. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Eisenberger, R., Rhoades, L., & Cameron, J. (1999). Does pay performance increase or decrease perceived self-determination and intrinsic motivation? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1026–1040.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Eisler, R. M., Miller, P. M., & Hersen, M. (1973). Components of assertive behavior. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 29, 295–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Felce, D. (1997). Defining and applying the concept of quality of life. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 41, 126–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Felce, D., & Perry, J. (1995). The extent of support for ordinary living in staffed housing. Social Science and Medicine, 40, 799–810.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Felce, D., & Perry, J. (1996). Assessment of quality of life. In R. Schalock (Ed.), Quality of life: Its conceptualization and measurement. Washington, DC: AAMR.Google Scholar
  28. Ferrari, L., Nota, L., & Soresi, S. (2004). Autodeterminazione e scelte scolastico-professionali: Uno strumento per l’assessment—Indicazioni per l’intervento [Self-determination and career choice. An instrument for assessment—Implications for practice]. Giornale Italiano di Psicologia dell’Orientamento, 5(2), 30–49.Google Scholar
  29. Field, S., & Hoffman, A. (1996). Steps to self-determination. Austin, TX: PRO-ED.Google Scholar
  30. Field, S., & Hoffman, A. (2002). Preparing youth to exercise self-determination: Quality indicators of school environments that promote the acquisition of knowledge, skills and beliefs related to self-determination. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 13, 113–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Frazier, P. A., Tix, A. P., & Barron, K. E. (2004). Testing moderator and mediator effects in counseling psychology research. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 51, 115–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Friedman, I. A., & Mann, L. (1993). Coping patterns in adolescent decision making: An Israeli-Australian comparison. Journal of Adolescence, 16, 187–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Frydenberg, E., & Lewis, R. (2000). Teaching coping to adolescents: When and to whom? American Educational Research Journal, 37, 727–745.Google Scholar
  34. Furnham, A., & Rawles, R. (1994). Interpersonal influence and coping strategies. Personality and Individual Differences, 16, 357–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Grolnick, W. S., Benjet, C., Kurowski, C. O., & Apostoleris, N. H. (1997). Predictors of parent involvement in children’s schooling. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 538–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Guay, F., Senécal, C., Gauthier, L., & Fernet, C. (2003). Predicting career indecision: A self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 50, 165–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hardre, P. L., & Reeve, J. (2003). A motivational model of rural students’ intentions to persist in, versus drop out of, high school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 347–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Huebner, E. S., Suldo, S. M., Valois, R. F., & Drane, J. W. (2006). The brief multidimensional students’ life satisfaction scale: Sex, race, and grade effects for applications with middle school students. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 1, 211–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Iannotti, R. J., Kogan, M. D., Janssen, I., & Boyce, W. F. (2009). Patterns of adolescent physical activity, screen-based media use, and positive and negative health indicators in the U.S. and Canada. Journal of Adolescent Health, 44, 493–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. King, G. A. (2000). Success in life for older adolescents with cerebral palsy. Qualitative Health Research, 10, 734–740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lachappelle, Y., Wehmeyer, M. L., Haelewyck, M. C., Courbois, Y., Keith, K. D., Schalock, R., et al. (2005). The relationship between quality of life and self-determination: An international study. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 49, 740–744.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  43. Licht, M. H. (1998). Multiple regression and correlation. In L. G. Grimm & P. R. Yarnold (Eds.), Reading and understanding multivariate statistics (pp. 19–64). Washimghton, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  44. Little, T. D., Hawley, P. H., Henrich, C. C., & Marsland, K. (2002). Three views of the agentic self: A developmental synthesis. In E. L. Deci & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of self-determination research (pp. 389–404). Rochester, NY: University of Rochester press.Google Scholar
  45. Little, T. D., Snyder, C. R., & Wehmeyer, M. (2006). The agentic self: On the nature and origins of personal agency across the lifespan. In D. K. Mroczek & T. D. Little (Eds.), Handbook of personality development (pp. 61–80). Mahwah, NJ: LEA.Google Scholar
  46. Ma, C., & Huebner, E. S. (2008). Attachment relationships and adolescents’ life satisfaction: Some relationships matter more to girls than boys. Psychology in the Schools, 45, 177–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McGrath, B., Brennan, M. A., Dolan, P., & Barnett, R. (2009). Adolescent well-being and supporting contexts: A comparison of adolescents in Ireland and Florida. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 19, 299–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mellor, D., Hayashi, Y., Firth, L., Stokes, M., Chambers, S., & Cummins, R. (2008). Volunteering and well-being: Do self-esteem, optimism, and perceived control mediate the relationship? Journal of Social Service Research, 34, 61–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Milyavskaya, M., Gingras, I., Mageau, G. A., Koestner, R., Gagnon, H., Fang, J., et al. (2009). Balance across contexts: Importance of balanced need satisfaction across various life domains. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1031–1045.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mortesen, C. D. (2008). Optimal human relations: The search for a good life. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  51. Nota, L. (1999). Tipologie di decisori e livelli di autoefficacia, assertività e qualità della vita in soggetti che si accingono a scegliere la facoltà universitaria [Typologies of deciders, assertiveness, and quality of life in individuals about to choose a university corse of study]. In N. Paggin (Ed.), Orientamento precoce alla scelta universitaria [University vocational guidance] (pp. 105–130). Padova: Cleup Editrice.Google Scholar
  52. Nota, L., Ferrari, L., & Soresi, S. (2005). “Quanta fiducia ho in me?” Validazione di uno strumento per l’analisi delle credenze di efficacia a proposito della gestione delle decisioni scolastico-professionali [“How much confidence do I have in myself?” An instrument for the analysis of school-career self-efficacy]. TPM-Testing Psicometria Metodologia, 12, 35–54.Google Scholar
  53. Nota, L., Ferrari, L., Soresi, S., & Solberg, V. S. H. (2007a). Career search self-efficacy, family support, and career indecision with Italian youth. Journal of Career Assessment, 15, 181–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Nota, L., Ferrari, L., Soresi, S., & Wehmeyer, M. (2007b). Self-determination, social abilities and the quality of life of people with intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 51, 850–865.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Nota, L., & Soresi, S. (1997). I comportamenti sociali: dall’analisi all’intervento [Social behaviors: From analysis to intervention]. Pordenone: ERIP Editrice.Google Scholar
  56. Nota, L., & Soresi, S. (2000). Autoefficacia nelle scelte [Self-efficacy and choice]. Firenze: Giunti-Organizzazioni Speciali.Google Scholar
  57. Nota, L., Soresi, S., & Perry, J. (2006). Quality of life in adults with an intellectual disability: The evaluation of Quality of Life instrument. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 50, 371–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Nunnally, J. C. (1967). Test and measurement. New York: MacGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  59. Overskeid, G., & Svartdal, F. (1996). Effects of reward on subjective autonomy and interest when initial interest is low. The Psychological Record, 46, 319–331.Google Scholar
  60. Palacio-Vieira, J. A., Villalonga-Olives, E., Valderas, J. M., Espallargues, M., Herdman, M., Berra, S., et al. (2008). Changes in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in a population-based sample of children and adolescents after 3 years of follow-up. Quality of Life Research, 17, 1207–1215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Perry, J., & Felce, D. (2005). Correlation between subjective and objective measures of outcome in staffed community housing. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 49, 278–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Powers, L. E., Wilson, R., Turner, A., & Rein, C. (1995). Take charge: Facilitator’s guide. Lebanon, NH: Dartmouth Medical School.Google Scholar
  63. Preacher, K. J., Curran, P. J., & Bauer, D. J. (2003). Probing interactions in multiple linear regression, latent curve analysis, and hierarchical linear modeling: Interactive calculation tools for establishing simple intercepts, simple slopes, and regions of significance [Computer software]. Available from
  64. Reeve, J., & Deci, E. L. (1996). Elements of the competitive situation that affect intrinsic motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 24–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Reeve, J., Nix, G., & Hamm, D. (2003). Testing models of the experience of self determination in intrinsic motivation and the conundrum of choice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 375–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Reeve, J., & Sickenius, B. (1994). Development and validation of a brief measure of three psychological needs underlying intrinsic motivation: The AFS scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 54, 506–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Ryan, R. M., & Connell, J. P. (1989). Perceived locus of causality and internalization: Examining reasons for acting in two domains. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 749–761.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2002). An overview of self–determination theory: An organismic–dialectical perspective. In E. L. Deci & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of self-determination research (pp. 3–33). Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
  70. Schalock, R. L. (1996). Reconsidering the conceptualization and measurement of quality of life. In R. Schalock (Ed.), Quality of life. Volume I: Conceptualization and measurement (pp. 123–139). Washington, DC: AAMR.Google Scholar
  71. Schalock, R. L. (2004). The emerging disability paradigm and its implications for policy and practice. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 14, 204–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Seligman, M. E. P. (1995). The optimistic child. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  73. Smith, H. M., & Betz, N. E. (2002). An examination of efficacy and esteem pathways to depression in young adulthood. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 49, 438–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Soenens, B., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2005). Antecedents and outcomes of self-determination in three life domains: The role of parents’ and teachers’ autonomy support. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34, 589–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Solberg, V. S., Good, G. E., Fischer, A. R., Brown, S. D., & Nord, D. (1995). Career decision-making and career search activities: Relative effects of career search self-efficacy and human agency. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 42, 448–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Soresi, S., & Nota, L. (2003a). Portfolio Clipper per l’orientamento dagli 15 ai 19 anni—Vol III: Abilità sociali e qualità della vita [Portfolio Clipper for vocational guidance from 15 to 19 years of age—Vol. III: Social skills and quality of life]. Firenze: ITER-Organizzazioni Speciali.Google Scholar
  77. Soresi, S., & Nota, L. (2003b). Portfolio Clipper per l’orientamento dagli 15 ai 19 anni—Vol II: Autoeffidcacia e decision making [Portfolio Clipper for vocational guidance from 15 to 19 years of age—Vol II: Self-efficacy and decision making]. Firenze: ITER-Organizzazioni Speciali.Google Scholar
  78. Soresi, S., Nota, L., & Ferrari, L. (2004). Autodeterminazione e scelte scolastico-professionali: Uno strumento per l’assessment [Self-determination and career choice. An instrument for assessment]. Giornale Italiano di Psicologia dell’Orientamento, 5(1), 26–42.Google Scholar
  79. Soresi, S., Nota, L., & Ferrari, L. (2007). Considerations on supports that can increase the quality of life of parents of children with disabilities. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 4, 248–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Soresi, S., Nota, L., & Sgaramella, T. M. (2003). La Valutazione delle Disabilità. (SecondoVolume) [The evaluation of disabilities. (Secondo Volume)]. Pordenone: Erip Editrice.Google Scholar
  81. Stancliffe, R. J., Abery, B. H., & Smith, J. (2000). Personal control and the ecology of community living settings: Beyond living-unit size and type. Mental Retardation, 105, 431–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Standage, M., Duda, J. L., & Ntoumanis, N. (2003). A model if contextual motivation in physic education: Using constructs from self-determination and achievement goal theories to predict physical activity intentions. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 97–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. The WHOQOL Group. (1995). The world health organization quality of life assessment (WHOQOL): Position paper from the world health organization. Social Science and Medicine, 41, 1403–1409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Thompson, E. P., Chaiken, S., & Hazelwood, J. D. (1993). Need for cognition and desire for control as moderators of extrinsic reward effects: A person x situation approach to the study of intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 987–999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Vallerand, R. J. (1997). Toward a hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, vol. 29 (pp. 271–360). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Vallerand, R. J., Pelletier, L. G., Blais, M. R., Briere, N. M., Senecal, C., & Vallieres, E. F. (1992). The academic motivation scale: A measure of intrinsic, extrinsic and amotivation in education. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 52, 1003–1019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Wehmeyer, M. L. (1996). A self-report measure of self-determination for adolescents with cognitive disabilities. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 31, 282–293.Google Scholar
  88. Wehmeyer, M. L. (2005). Self-determination and individuals with severe disabilities: Reexamining meanings and misinterpretations. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 30, 113–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Wehmeyer, M. L., & Garner, N. W. (2003). The impact of personal characteristics of people with intellectual and developmental disability on self-determination and autonomous functioning. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 16, 255–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Wehmeyer, M. L., & Kelchner, K. (1995). The Arc’s self-determination scale. Arlington, TX: The Arc.Google Scholar
  91. Wehmeyer, M. L., & Kelchner, K. (1997).Whose future is it anyway? A student-directed transition planning program. Silver Spring, MD: The Arc of the United States.Google Scholar
  92. Wehmeyer, M. L., Kelchner, K., & Richards, S. (1995). Individual and environmental factors related to the self-determination of adults with mental retardation. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 5, 291–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Wehmeyer, M. L., & Little, T. D. (2009). Self-Determination. In S. Lopez (Ed.), The encyclopedia of positive psychology, vol 2 (pp. 868–874). Boston: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  94. Wehmeyer, M. L., & Palmer, S. (2000). Promoting the acquisition and development of self-determination in young children with disabilities. Early Education and Development, 11, 465–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Wehmeyer, M. L., & Palmer, S. B. (2003). Adult outcomes for students with cognitive disabilities three years after high school: The impact of self-determination. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 38, 131–144.Google Scholar
  96. Wehmeyer, M. L., Palmer, S., Agran, M., Mithaug, D., & Martin, J. (2000). Promoting causal agency: The self-determined learning model of instruction. Exceptional Children, 66, 439–453.Google Scholar
  97. Wehmeyer, M. L., & Schwartz, M. (1997). Self-determination and positive adult outcomes: A follow-up study of youth with mental retardation or learning disabilities. Exceptional Children, 63, 245–255.Google Scholar
  98. Wehmeyer, M. L., & Schwartz, M. (1998). The relationship between self-determination, quality of life, and life satisfaction for adults with mental retardation. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 33, 3–12.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Nota
    • 1
  • Salvatore Soresi
    • 1
  • Lea Ferrari
    • 1
  • Micheal L. Wehmeyer
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Developmental Psychology and SocializationUniversità degli Studi di PadovaPadovaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Special EducationUniversity of KansasLawerenceUSA

Personalised recommendations