The role of rapport in satisfying one’s basic psychological needs

  • Zachary G. BakerEmail author
  • Emily M. Watlington
  • C. Raymond Knee
Original Paper


Psychological need satisfaction is essential for daily human functioning and one of its sources is high quality interactions. Rapport is essential to high quality interactions and may be one way that various relationships types can provide the nutriments of healthy functioning. We hypothesized that when people perceive interactions to be higher in rapport, they will experience greater satisfaction of their needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. We also explored whether this would be a basic process that would be altered by the relationship between interactants, testing this with multiple operationalizations. We conducted an event-contingent diary study in which participants (nparticipants = 124) responded to items at baseline, each time they experienced an interaction (ninteraction = 1293), and at two-week follow-up. Supporting hypotheses, rapport in interactions was positively associated with need satisfaction within-persons, between-persons, cross-sectionally, and when examining temporal change. Moreover, rapport tended to predict the satisfaction of one’s needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness independently. Finally, relationships between interactants did not moderate these associations.


Rapport Self-determination Need satisfaction Interaction 



Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers F31AA026195. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


This study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (F31AA026195). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Zachary Baker declares that he has no conflict of interest. Emily Watlington declares that she has no conflict of interest. C. Raymond Knee declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

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

Supplementary material

11031_2020_9819_MOESM1_ESM.docx (49 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 48 kb)


  1. Allen, K. M., Blascovich, J., Tomaka, J., & Kelsey, R. M. (1991). Presence of human friends and pet dogs as moderators of autonomic responses to stress in women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,61, 582–589. Scholar
  2. Altman, I. (1990). Conceptualizing “rapport”. Psychological Inquiry,1(4), 294–297. Scholar
  3. Baard, P. P., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2004). Intrinsic need satisfaction: A motivational basis of performance and weil-being in two work settings. Journal of Applied Social Psychology,34(10), 2045–2068. Scholar
  4. Baker, Z. G., Nguyen, T. T., & Knee, C. R. (revise and resubmit). Quality and quantity: Weak and close tie interactions, need fulfillment, and their associations with well-being and goal progress. Google Scholar
  5. Baker, Z. G., Tou, R. Y. W., Bryan, J. L., & Knee, C. R. (2017). Authenticity and well-being: Exploring positivity and negativity in interactions as a mediator. Personality and Individual Differences,113, 235–239. Scholar
  6. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin,117(3), 497–529. Scholar
  7. Bernieri, F. J., Davis, J. M., Rosenthal, R., & Knee, C. R. (1994). Interactional synchrony and rapport: Measuring synchrony in displays devoid of sound and facial affect. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,20(3), 303–311. Scholar
  8. Berscheid, E., Snyder, M., & Omoto, A. M. (2004). Measuring closeness: The relationship closeness inventory (RCI) revisited. In D. J. Mashek & P. Aron (Eds.), Handbook of closeness and intimacy (pp. 81–101). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  9. Bolger, N., Davis, A., & Rafaeli, E. (2003). Diary methods: Capturing life as it is lived. Annual Review of Psychology,54(1), 579–616. Scholar
  10. Chen, B., Vansteenkiste, M., Beyers, W., Boone, L., Deci, E. L., Van der Kaap-Deeder, J., …, Verstuyf, J. (2015). Basic psychological need satisfaction, need frustration, and need strength across four cultures. Motivation and Emotion, 39, 216–236. Scholar
  11. Chopik, W. J. (2017). Associations among relational values, support, health, and well-being across the adult lifespan. Personal Relationships,24, 408–422. Scholar
  12. Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin,112(1), 155. Scholar
  13. Cohen, S. (2004). Social relationships and health. American Psychologist,59, 676–684. Scholar
  14. Crocker, J., & Canevello, A. (2008). Creating and undermining social support in communal relationships: The role of compassionate and self-image goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,95(3), 555. Scholar
  15. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in personality. Journal of Research in Personality,19(2), 109–134. Scholar
  16. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “What” and “Why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry,11(4), 227–268. Scholar
  17. Deci, E. L., Ryan, R. M., Gagné, M., Leone, D. R., Usunov, J., & Kornazheva, B. P. (2001). Need satisfaction, motivation, and well-being in the work organizations of a former eastern bloc country: A cross-cultural study of self-determination. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,27(8), 930–942. Scholar
  18. DePaulo, B. M., & Bell, K. L. (1990). Rapport is not so soft anymore. Psychological Inquiry,1(4), 305–308. Scholar
  19. Duffy, K. A., & Chartrand, T. L. (2015). The extravert advantage how and when extraverts build rapport with other people. Psychological Science. Scholar
  20. Elliot, A. J., & Dweck, C. S. (2005). Competence and motivation. In A. J. Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 3–12). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  21. Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Buchner, A., & Lang, A. (2009). Statistical power analyses using G*Power 3.1: Tests for correlation and regression analyses. Behavior Research Methods,41(4), 1149–1160. Scholar
  22. Feeney, B. C., & Collins, N. L. (2015). A new look at social support: A theoretical perspective on thriving through relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Review,19, 113–147. Scholar
  23. Fingerman, K. L. (2009). Consequential strangers and peripheral ties: The importance of unimportant relationships. Journal of Family Theory & Review,1, 69–86. Scholar
  24. Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). Chapter one: Positive emotions broaden and build. In P. Devine & A. Plant (Eds.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 47, pp. 1–53). New York: Academic Press. Scholar
  25. Fredrickson, B. L. (2016). Love: Positivity resonance as a fresh, evidence-based perspective on an age-old topic. In L. F. Barrett & J. M. Haviland (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (4th ed., pp. 847–858). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  26. Gable, S. L., & Reis, H. T. (2010). Good news! Capitalizing on positive events in an interpersonal context. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 42, pp. 195–257). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Scholar
  27. Gagne, M. (2003). Autonomy support and need satisfaction in the motivation and well-being of gymnasts. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology,15(4), 372–390. Scholar
  28. Grantiz, N. A., Koernig, S. K., & Harich, K. R. (2008). Now it’s personal: Antecedents and outcomes of rapport between business faculty and their students. Journal of Marketing Education.Google Scholar
  29. Gurland, S. T., & Grolnick, W. S. (2003). Children’s expectancies and perceptions of adults: Effects on rapport. Child Development,74(4), 1212–1224. Scholar
  30. Gurland, S. T., & Grolnick, W. S. (2008). Building rapport with children: Effects of adults’ expected, actual, and perceived behavior. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology,27(3), 226–253. Scholar
  31. Gurland, S. T., Grolnick, W. S., & Friendly, R. W. (2012). The role of expectations in children’s experience of novel events. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology,113(3), 305–321. Scholar
  32. Hadden, B. W., Rodriguez, L. M., Knee, C. R., DiBello, A. M., & Baker, Z. G. (2016). An actor-partner interdependence model of attachment and need fulfillment in romantic dyads. Social Psychological and Personality Science.,7, 349–357. Scholar
  33. Hall, J. A. (2018). How many hours does it take to make a friend? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Scholar
  34. Heppner, W. L., Kernis, M. H., Nezlek, J. B., Foster, J., Lakey, C. E., & Goldman, B. M. (2008). Within-person relationships among daily self-esteem, need satisfaction, and authenticity. Psychological Science,19(11), 1140–1145. Scholar
  35. Hodgins, H. S., Koestner, R., & Duncan, N. (1996). On the compatibility of autonomy and relatedness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,22, 227–237. Scholar
  36. Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: A meta-analytic review. PLoS Medicine,7(7), e1000316. Scholar
  37. Hove, M. J., & Risen, J. L. (2009). It’s all in the timing: Interpersonal synchrony increases affiliation. Social Cognition,27(6), 949–960. Scholar
  38. Huang, L., Morency, L.-P., & Gratch, J. (2011). Virtual rapport 2.0. In Intelligent virtual agents (pp. 68–79). Springer.Google Scholar
  39. Karremans, J. C., Schellekens, M. P., & Kappen, G. (2017). Bridging the sciences of mindfulness and romantic relationships: A theoretical model and research agenda. Personality and Social Psychology Review,21(1), 29–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kasser, V. G., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). The relation of psychological needs for autonomy and relatedness to vitality, well-being, and mortality in a nursing home. Journal of Applied Social Psychology,29, 935–954. Scholar
  41. Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Loving, T. J., Stowell, J. R., Malarkey, W. B., Lemeshow, S., Dickinson, S. L., et al. (2005). Hostile marital interactions, proinflammatory cytokine production, and wound healing. Archives of General Psychiatry,62(12), 1377–1384. Scholar
  42. Knee, C. R., Hadden, B. W., Porter, B., & Rodriguez, L. M. (2013). Self-determination theory and romantic relationship processes. Personality and Social Psychology Review,17(4), 307–324. Scholar
  43. La Guardia, J. G., & Patrick, H. (2008). Self-determination theory as a fundamental theory of close relationships. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne,49(3), 201–209. Scholar
  44. La Guardia, J. G., Ryan, R. M., Couchman, C. E., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Within-person variation in security of attachment: A self-determination theory perspective on attachment, need fulfillment, and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,79(3), 367–384. Scholar
  45. Lakin, J. L., & Chartrand, T. L. (2003). Using nonconscious behavioral mimicry to create affiliation and rapport. Psychological Science,14(4), 334–339. Scholar
  46. Luo, Y., Hawkley, L. C., Waite, L. J., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2012). Loneliness, health, and mortality in old age: A National Longitudinal Study. Social Science Medicine,74, 907–914. Scholar
  47. Major, B. C., Le Nguyen, K. D., Lundberg, K. B., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2018). Well-being correlates of perceived positivity resonance: Evidence from trait and episode-level assessments. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44(12), 1631–1647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Markey, P. M., Funder, D. C., & Ozer, D. J. (2003). Complementarity of interpersonal behaviors in dyadic interactions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,29(9), 1082–1090. 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(8), 1031–1045. Scholar
  50. Patrick, H., Knee, C. R., Canevello, A., & Lonsbary, C. (2007). The role of need fulfillment in relationship functioning and well-being: A self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,92(3), 434–457. Scholar
  51. Philippe, F. L., Koestner, R., Beaulieu-Pelletier, G., & Lecours, S. (2011). The role of need satisfaction as a distinct and basic psychological component of autobiographical memories: A look at well-being. Journal of Personality,79(5), 905–938. Scholar
  52. Pietromonaco, P. R., Uchino, B., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2013). Close relationship processes and health: Implications of attachment theory for health and disease. Health Psychology,32(5), 499–513. Scholar
  53. Puccinelli, N. M., Tickle-Degnen, L., & Rosenthal, R. (2003). Effect of dyadic context on judgments of rapport: Dyad task and partner presence. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior,27(4), 211–236. Scholar
  54. Reis, H. T., Sheldon, K. M., Gable, S. L., Roscoe, J., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). Daily well-being: The role of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,26(4), 419–435. Scholar
  55. Reis, H. T., & Wheeler, L. (1991). Studying social interaction with the Rochester Interaction Record. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology,24, 269–318. Scholar
  56. Rogers, C. R. (1963). Actualizing tendency in relation to “Motives” and to consciousness.Google Scholar
  57. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017a). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. New York: Guilford Publications.Google Scholar
  58. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017b). Relationships motivation theory: The self in close relationships. In R. Ryan & E. Deci (Eds.), Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness (pp. 293–318). New York: Guilford Publishing.Google Scholar
  59. Sandstrom, G. M., & Dunn, E. W. (2014a). Is efficiency overrated? Minimal social interactions lead to belonging and positive affect. Social Psychological and Personality Science,5(4), 437–442. Scholar
  60. Sandstrom, G. M., & Dunn, E. W. (2014b). Social interactions and well-being the surprising power of weak ties. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,40(7), 910–922. Scholar
  61. Sheldon, K. M., Abad, N., & Hinsch, C. (2011). A two-process view of Facebook use and relatedness need-satisfaction: Disconnection drives use, and connection rewards it. APA PsycNET,1(S), 2. Scholar
  62. Sheldon, K. M., & Hilpert, J. C. (2012). The Balanced Measure of Psychological Needs (BMPN) scale: An alternative domain general measure of need satisfaction. Motivation and Emotion,36(4), 439–451. Scholar
  63. Sheldon, K. M., & Niemiec, C. P. (2006). It’s not just the amount that counts: Balanced need satisfaction also affects well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,91(2), 331. Scholar
  64. Slotter, E. B., & Finkel, E. J. (2009). The strange case of sustained dedication to an unfulfilling relationship: Predicting commitment and breakup from attachment anxiety and need fulfillment within relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,35(1), 85–100. Scholar
  65. Tickle-Degnen, L., & Rosenthal, R. (1990). The nature of rapport and its nonverbal correlates. Psychological Inquiry,1(4), 285–293. Scholar
  66. Uchino, B. N. (2009). Understanding the links between social support and physical health: A life-span perspective with emphasis on the separability of perceived and received support. Perspectives on Psychological Science,4, 236–255. Scholar
  67. Uysal, A., Lin, H. L., & Knee, C. R. (2010). The role of need satisfaction in self-concealment and well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,36, 187–199. Scholar
  68. Vacharkulksemsuk, T., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2012). Strangers in sync: Achieving embodied rapport through shared movements. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,48(1), 399–402. Scholar
  69. Vallerand, R. J. (1997). Toward a hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Google Scholar
  70. Vallerand, R. J. (2000). Deci and Ryan’s self-determination theory: A view from the hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Psychological Inquiry,11, 312–318.Google Scholar
  71. Vallerand, R. J. (2007). A hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for sport and physical activity. Google Scholar
  72. Vicaria, I. M., Bernieri, F. J., & Isaacowitz, D. M. (2015). Perceptions of rapport across the life span: Gaze patterns and judgment accuracy. Psychology and Aging,30(2), 396–406. Scholar
  73. Weinstein, N., Hodgins, H. S., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). Autonomy and control in dyads: Effects on interaction quality and joint creative performance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,36(12), 1603–1617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wiltermuth, S. S., & Heath, C. (2009). Synchrony and cooperation. Psychological Science,20(1), 1–5. Scholar
  75. Wuyts, D., Soenens, B., Vansteenkiste, M., & Van Petegem, S. (2018). The role of observed autonomy support, reciprocity, and need satisfaction in adolescent disclosure about friends. Journal of Adolescence,65, 141–154. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zachary G. Baker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Emily M. Watlington
    • 1
  • C. Raymond Knee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA

Personalised recommendations