A Bright and a Dark Path to Adolescents’ Functioning: The Role of Need Satisfaction and Need Frustration Across Gender, Age, and Socioeconomic Status

  • Ana Rodríguez-MeirinhosEmail author
  • Lucía Antolín-Suárez
  • Katrijn Brenning
  • Maarten Vansteenkiste
  • Alfredo Oliva
Research Paper


A central tenet of Self-Determination Theory is that the basic psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence represent universal psychological nutriments for adolescents’ functioning. This study contributed to the investigation of this universality claim by examining whether the satisfaction and frustration of basic psychological needs would relate, respectively, to adolescents’ wellbeing and psychological maladjustment across gender, age, and socioeconomic status (SES). Having gathered data in a large sample of Spanish adolescents (N = 1047; M = 14.68, SD = 1.53), through a series of confirmatory factor analyses we began by providing validity evidence for the Spanish child-adapted version of the Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Frustration Scale (BPNSFS; Chen et al. in Mot Emot 39:216–236, 2015b A 6-first-order factor model, distinguishing the satisfaction and frustration of each of the three needs, better represented the data. In addition, evidence for measurement and structural invariance of the BPNSFS-child version across the three sociodemographic characteristics was largely achieved. Structural equation models further revealed that need satisfaction contributed uniquely to well-being, whereas need frustration contributed uniquely to adolescents’ psychological adjustment problems. Further, multigroup comparisons generally supported invariant patterns of relations across gender, age, and SES groups. Results are discussed in light of the generalizability of need-based dynamics among adolescents.


Self-Determination Theory Psychological needs Universality Well-being Maladjustment Adolescence 



This study was funded by a research grant awarded to the first author by the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Formación Profesional (FPU 14/02888).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures involving human participants in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the (blinded for review) research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Additional informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Psicología Evolutiva y de la EducaciónUniversidad de SevillaSevilleSpain
  2. 2.Department of Developmental, Personality and Social PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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