Titel: University students’ basic psychological needs, motivation, and vitality before and during COVID-19: A self-determination theory approach

Self-determination theory assumes that the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are associated with motivational regulation. As these basic psychological needs may have been affected by the shift to distance learning, students’ motivational regulation and vitality may have suffered as well. The purpose of this study was to examine the motivational regulation, satisfaction, or frustration of the basic psychological needs and vitality of university students before and after the transition to forced distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic: Two student samples from Austria and Germany were studied: One was surveyed before the conversion to distance learning (N = 1,139) and the other at the beginning of forced distance learning (N = 1,835). The instruments used were the Scales for the Measurement of Motivational Regulation for Learning in University Students (SMR-L), the German version of the Basic Psychological Needs Satisfaction and Frustration Scale, a scale developed by the authors to differentiate the assessment of social relatedness, and the German version of the Subjective Vitality Scale. The results show that the satisfaction of basic psychological needs was significantly lower and the frustration thereof substantially higher during the distance learning period than before the pandemic. Intrinsic motivation and identified regulation were significantly lower during the forced distance learning period, and more controlled forms of motivation were higher than before the pandemic. Structural equation models showed that 42% of the students’ vitality can be explained by motivational regulation and the satisfaction and frustration of their basic needs. Motivational regulation styles functioned (differentiated according to the degree of autonomy) as mediating variables between basic needs and vitality. In terms of theoretical implications, the distinction between approach and avoidance components of introjected regulation was shown to be adequate and necessary, as they explain the outcome vitality differently. The support and avoidance of frustration of basic psychological needs should be considered in distance learning to promote the quality of motivation and students' vitality.

Schlagworte: basic psychological needs, motivation, vitality, university students, COVID-19, distance learning
Publikationstyp: Beitrag in Zeitschrift (Autorenschaft)
Erscheinungsdatum: 25.11.2021 (Online)
Erschienen in: Frontiers in Psychology
Frontiers in Psychology
zur Publikation
 ( Frontiers Media S.A.; )
Titel der Serie: Educational Psychology
Bandnummer: 12
Heftnummer: -
Erstveröffentlichung: Ja
Version: -
Seite: -


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Erscheinungsdatum: 25.11.2021
ISBN (e-book): -
eISSN: -
Open Access
  • In einem Open-Access-Journal erschienen


Organisation Adresse
Fakultät für Kultur- und Bildungswissenschaften
Institut für Unterrichts- und Schulentwicklung
Sterneckstraße 15
9020 Klagenfurt am Wörthersee
zur Organisation
Sterneckstraße 15
AT - 9020  Klagenfurt am Wörthersee


  • 501016 - Pädagogische Psychologie
  • 503006 - Bildungsforschung
  • Bildungsforschung
  • Social Science Citation Index (SSCI)
Informationen zum Zitationsindex: Master Journal List
Peer Reviewed
  • Ja
  • Science to Science (Qualitätsindikator: I)
Klassifikationsraster der zugeordneten Organisationseinheiten:
  • IUS


Organisation Adresse
Pädagogische Hochschule Weingarten
DE  Weingarten
Pädagogische Hochschule Kärnten
Hubertusstraße 1
9020 Klagenfurt
Österreich - Kärnten
  +43 (0)463 508508
  +43 (0)463 508508-829
Hubertusstraße 1
AT - 9020  Klagenfurt
Universität Innsbruck
Innrain 52
6020 Innsbruck
Österreich - Tirol
Innrain 52
AT - 6020  Innsbruck
Universität Bielefeld
Universitätsstraße 25
Universitätsstraße 25
Universität Salzburg
Österreich - Salzburg
AT  Salzburg
Pädagogische Hochschule Salzburg
Akademiestraße 26
5020 Salzburg
Österreich - Salzburg
Akademiestraße 26
AT - 5020  Salzburg

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