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Daily Well-Being: The Role Of Autonomy, Competence, And Relatedness

Harry T. Reis, Kennon M. Sheldon, Shelly L. Gable, Joseph Roscoe, Richard M. Ryan

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Emotional well-being is most typically studied in trait or trait-like terms, yet a growing literature indicates that daily (within-person) fluctuations in emotional well-being may be equally important. The present research explored the hypothesis that daily variations may be understood in terms of the degree to which three basic needs—autonomy, competence, and relatedness—are satisfied in daily activity. Hierarchical linear models were used to examine this hypothesis across 2 weeks of daily activity and well-being reports controlling for trait-level individual differences. Results strongly supported the hypothesis. The authors also examined the social activities that contribute to satisfaction of relatedness needs. The best predictors were meaningful talk and feeling understood and appreciated by interaction partners. Finally, the authors found systematic day-of-the-week variations in emotional well-being and need satisfaction. These results are discussed in terms of the importance of daily activities and the need to consider both trait and day-level determinants of well-being.