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The mediating role of affect in the relationship between need satisfaction and autonomous motivation



The relationship between need satisfaction and motivation is well established within self-determination theory (SDT). However, less is known about the affective mechanism that underlies this relationship. In this study, we extend SDT by focusing on the exact role of affect in the need satisfaction–motivation relationship. To this end, we conducted a daily diary study (= 72) and an experience sampling study (= 37) in which we tested the mediating role of positive and negative affect in the relationship between satisfaction of the autonomy, competence, and relatedness need on the one hand and autonomous motivation on the other hand. Moreover, alternative models were tested. The results of both studies demonstrated that affect did mediate the need satisfaction–intrinsic motivation relationship. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Practitioner points

  • Organizations can influence the intrinsic motivation of employees by changing working conditions to fulfil employees' needs.
  • Organizations can influence intrinsic motivation by changing the appraisals of working conditions.