Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 234–244 | Cite as

Restoration processes after need thwarting: When autonomy depends on competence

  • Rémi RadelEmail author
  • Luc Pelletier
  • Philippe Sarrazin
Original Paper


Like other fundamental needs, recent studies have shown that the need for autonomy elicits goal-oriented behaviors that aim to its restoration when it is thwarted. However, no research has yet examined the factors that moderate the restoration process. In the present studies, we investigated the moderating role of perceived competence in the restoration of autonomy. We monitored autonomy restoration behaviors by assessing the extent to which participants turn away from a controlling function in a computerized puzzle task. Across the two studies, the results suggested that, in comparison with baseline participants, autonomy-deprived participants acted to regain their autonomy but only when their level of perceived competence in the task was high. When perceived competence was low, participants disengaged from autonomy restoration, seemingly to favor competence. These findings are discussed using self-determination theory and models of stress and coping.


Autonomy Need restoration Self-determination theory Perceived competence Coping strategies 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rémi Radel
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Luc Pelletier
    • 1
  • Philippe Sarrazin
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Laboratoire SENSUniversity of GrenobleGrenobleFrance
  3. 3.UFR STAPSUniversity of NiceNice cédex 3France

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