Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 688–700 | Cite as

The benefits of autonomy support for adolescents with severe emotional and behavioral problems

  • Audrey Savard
  • Mireille Joussemet
  • Julie Emond Pelletier
  • Geneviève A. Mageau
Original Paper


The benefits of autonomy support in the domain of education have been well established within the general population, but have yet to be demonstrated within clinical populations. The present study investigated the benefits of an autonomy-supportive interpersonal style on teenage girls’ internalization of a tedious clinical workshop and their subjective experience during this task. Participants were female teenagers placed in a social rehabilitation center for their severe emotional and behavioral problems (n = 29). An experimental design allowed comparing the impact of learning a tedious, but important workshop with or without autonomy support on internalization and experiential outcomes. Results demonstrate that autonomy support leads to higher perceived task’s value, task liking as well as less negative affect compared to a condition without autonomy-support. Participants in the autonomy-supportive condition also perceived the instructor as more competent. By uncovering benefits of autonomy support to a clinical population of adolescents, the present study supports self-determination theory’s tenet that the benefits of autonomy support are universal.


Autonomy support Internalization Well-being Motivation Clinical population 



This research was supported in part by grants from the Fonds Québécois de Recherche sur la Société et la Culture (FQRSC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). We thank the Centre Jeunesse de Montréal—Institut Universitaire—for their partnership in the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Audrey Savard
    • 1
  • Mireille Joussemet
    • 1
  • Julie Emond Pelletier
    • 1
  • Geneviève A. Mageau
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada

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