The Relation of Psychological Needs for Autonomy and Relatedness to Vitality, Well-Being, and Mortality in a Nursing Home1


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    This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD19914).

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Richard M. Ryan, Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627.


Drawing from both self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1991) and Carstensen's (1993) socioemotional selectivity theory, we hypothesized that well-being and health would be facilitated by: (a) greater personal autonomy; (b) perceived support for autonomy from both nursing-home staff and residents friends and relatives; and (c) the emotional quality (rather than quantity) of residents' contacts with friends and family. Results based on structured interview and survey data from 50 nursing-home residents, showed that both autonomy support and relatedness indexes correlated with psychological out-comes. Personal autonomy also was significantly related to mortality at a 1-year follow-up. It also was found that subjective vitality (Ryan & Frederick, 1997) was associated with lower distress and greater well-being, and perceived autonomy and relatedness.