Need Satisfaction and Well-Being: Testing Self-Determination Theory in Eight Cultures

A. Timothy Church, Marcia S. Katigbak, Kenneth D. Locke, Hengsheng Zhang, Jiliang Shen, José de Jesús Vargas-Flores, Joselina Ibáñez-Reyes, Junko Tanaka-Matsumi, Guy J. Curtis, Helena F. Cabrera, Khairul A. Mastor, Juan M. Alvarez, Fernando A. Ortiz, Jean Yves R. Simon, Charles M. Ching

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

216 Citations (Scopus)


According to Self-Determination Theory (SDT), satisfaction of needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness is a universal requirement for psychological well-being. We tested this hypothesis with college students in the United States, Australia, Mexico, Venezuela, the Philippines, Malaysia, China, and Japan. Participants rated the extent to which these needs, plus needs for self-actualization and pleasure-stimulation, were satisfied in various roles and reported their general hedonic (i.e., positive and negative affect) and eudaimonic (e.g., meaning in life, personal growth) well-being. Asian participants averaged lower than non-Asian participants in perceived satisfaction of autonomy, competence, and self-actualization needs and in most aspects of eudaimonic well-being, and these differences were partially accounted for by differences in dialecticism and independent self-construals. Nonetheless, perceived need satisfaction predicted overall well-being to a similar degree in all cultures and in most cultures provided incremental prediction beyond the Big Five traits. Perceived imbalance in the satisfaction of different needs also modestly predicted well-being, particularly negative affect. The study extended support for the universal importance of SDT need satisfaction to several new cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-534
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013
Externally publishedYes


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