Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 444–456 | Cite as

Different pathways, same effects: Autonomous goal regulation is associated with subjective well-being during the post-school transition

  • David Litalien
  • Oliver Lüdtke
  • Philip Parker
  • Ulrich Trautwein
Original Paper


Using self-determination theory as a theoretical framework, this study examines the associations between autonomous goal regulation and subjective well-being (life satisfaction, positive and negative affect, self-esteem) during the post-school transition. The sample consisted of 2,284 academic track students (62 % female) in Germany who answered a questionnaire at the end of high school and again 2 years later, allowing us to differentiate three post-school trajectories (university, vocational training, not in education). Structural equation modeling showed that autonomous goal regulation measured at Time 1 positively predicted Time 2 life satisfaction, positive affect, self-esteem, and autonomous goal regulation and negatively predicted negative affect, controlling for construct stability. However, subjective well-being indicators at Time 1 did not predict autonomous goal regulation at Time 2. Multigroup analyses indicated comparable associations between goal regulation and subjective well-being across groups, highlighting the strength and generalizability of the effect of autonomous goal regulation on subjective well-being during the post-school transition.


Self-determination theory Personal goals Well-being Post-school transition 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Litalien
    • 1
  • Oliver Lüdtke
    • 2
    • 3
  • Philip Parker
    • 3
    • 4
  • Ulrich Trautwein
    • 3
  1. 1.Pavillon des sciences de l’éducationUniversité LavalQuebecCanada
  2. 2.Humboldt UniversityBerlinGermany
  3. 3.University of TübingenTübingenGermany
  4. 4.University of Western SydneySydneyAustralia

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