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The universal and culture specific character of basic psychological need satisfaction

Beiwen Chen (UGent)
(2013)
Author
Promoter
Wim Beyers and Maarten Vansteenkiste
Organization
Abstract
We are all familiar with the word “need”. A young person says he needs to be popular at parties and advertisements convince us that we need the product they sell. Yet, what do we exactly want to say when we claim that “we need something”? Does it mean that the needed object is an inherent necessity for our physical and psychological health or does the need reflect an acquired desire or preference that we have learned through interaction with the social environment? Are there fundamental psychological needs, whose satisfaction is functionally beneficial for human functioning across individuals and cultures? The present dissertation aims to examine the culture-specific and universal aspects of the role of psychological needs, as postulated in n Self- Determination Theory (SDT, Ryan & Deci, 2000). We focused on three psychological needs, namely, autonomy, relatedness, and competence. After presenting how both perspectives conceive psychological needs, we outline the three main goals of the present dissertation. First, we focus on autonomy because it is a complex construct that has been used as an umbrella term to denote different concepts in the cross-cultural and adolescent psychology literature (see review in Van Petegem, Vansteenkiste, & Beyers, in press). Before examining whether the benefits of autonomy are culture-bounded or universal, it is critical to be aware of the conceptualizations of autonomy from both sides of the debate as to ensure that the debate is grounded in a shared understanding of the notion of autonomy. To this end, the present dissertation aimed to empirically disentangle the two prevailing concepts and operationalizations of autonomy in the cross-cultural and motivational literature, that is, autonomy as independence and autonomy as self-endorsement. Second, we examined in depth the presumed universal character of the psychological needs, that is, their functional role in predicting well-being (a) across interpersonal differences in the endorsement of collectivistic beliefs, (b) across diverse countries characterized by a particular cultural climate (i.e., China, US, Peru, Belgium, South-Africa), (c) across interpersonal differences in the desire for need satisfaction and (d) across interpersonal differences in experienced safety deprivation. Third, we explore two culture-specific aspects of the psychological needs. That is, we examined whether a vignette, in which parents adopt a parental guilt–induction approach towards their children, would be differently interpreted by Chinese, relative to Belgian, adolescents. Second, we examined whether the coping reactions towards experienced need frustration would be culture-dependent. The dissertation ends with a general discussion that presents a summarizing overview of the findings, takes a helicopter viewpoint towards the findings, and aims to build a dialogue between the SDT-perspective and the mainstream cross-cultural viewpoint on psychological needs. Finally, the dissertation ends with a revisit to traditional West and East philosophy on this matter.

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MLA
Chen, Beiwen. “The Universal and Culture Specific Character of Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction.” 2013 : n. pag. Print.
APA
Chen, B. (2013). The universal and culture specific character of basic psychological need satisfaction. Department of developmental, personality and social psychology, Ghent, Belgium.
Chicago author-date
Chen, Beiwen. 2013. “The Universal and Culture Specific Character of Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction”. Ghent, Belgium: Department of developmental, personality and social psychology.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Chen, Beiwen. 2013. “The Universal and Culture Specific Character of Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction”. Ghent, Belgium: Department of developmental, personality and social psychology.
Vancouver
1.
Chen B. The universal and culture specific character of basic psychological need satisfaction. [Ghent, Belgium]: Department of developmental, personality and social psychology; 2013.
IEEE
[1]
B. Chen, “The universal and culture specific character of basic psychological need satisfaction,” Department of developmental, personality and social psychology, Ghent, Belgium, 2013.
@phdthesis{4134732,
  abstract     = {We are all familiar with the word “need”. A young person says he needs to be popular at parties and advertisements convince us that we need the product they sell. Yet, what do we exactly want to say when we claim that “we need something”? Does it mean that the needed object is an inherent necessity for our physical and psychological health or does the need reflect an acquired desire or preference that we have learned through interaction with the social environment? Are there fundamental psychological needs, whose satisfaction is functionally beneficial for human functioning across individuals and cultures?  
The present dissertation aims to examine the culture-specific and universal aspects of the role of psychological needs, as postulated in n Self- Determination Theory (SDT, Ryan & Deci, 2000). We focused on three psychological needs, namely, autonomy, relatedness, and competence. After presenting how both perspectives conceive psychological needs, we outline the three main goals of the present dissertation. 
First, we focus on autonomy because it is a complex construct that has been used as an umbrella term to denote different concepts in the cross-cultural and adolescent psychology literature (see review in Van Petegem, Vansteenkiste, & Beyers, in press). Before examining whether the benefits of autonomy are culture-bounded or universal, it is critical to be aware of the conceptualizations of autonomy from both sides of the debate as to ensure that the debate is grounded in a shared understanding of the notion of autonomy. To this end, the present dissertation aimed to empirically disentangle the two prevailing concepts and operationalizations of autonomy in the cross-cultural and motivational literature, that is, autonomy as independence and autonomy as self-endorsement. 
Second, we examined in depth the presumed universal character of the psychological needs, that is, their functional role in predicting well-being  (a) across interpersonal differences in the endorsement of collectivistic beliefs, (b) across diverse countries characterized by a particular cultural climate (i.e., China, US, Peru, Belgium, South-Africa), (c) across interpersonal differences in the desire for need satisfaction and (d) across interpersonal differences in experienced safety deprivation. 
Third, we explore two culture-specific aspects of the psychological needs. That is, we examined whether a vignette, in which parents adopt a parental guilt–induction approach towards their children, would be differently interpreted by Chinese, relative to Belgian, adolescents. Second, we examined whether the coping reactions towards experienced need frustration would be culture-dependent. The dissertation ends with a general discussion that presents a summarizing overview of the findings, takes a helicopter viewpoint towards the findings, and aims to build a dialogue between the SDT-perspective and the mainstream cross-cultural viewpoint on psychological needs. Finally, the dissertation ends with a revisit to traditional West and East philosophy on this matter.},
  author       = {Chen, Beiwen},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {238},
  publisher    = {Department of developmental, personality and social psychology},
  school       = {Ghent University},
  title        = {The universal and culture specific character of basic psychological need satisfaction},
  year         = {2013},
}