Validation of the basic psychological needs scale in a South African student group
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During the past few years research has increasingly focused on the constituents of well-being, resulting in the development of various theories aimed at explaining what it means to be psychologically well. Self-determination theory (SDT), a metatheory of human motivation, discerns three basic psychological needs which are universal across cultures, namely autonomy, competence, and relatedness. According to basic psychological needs theory, a subtheory of SDT, all three basic psychological needs must be satisfied for growth and well-being to occur. When one or more of the basic psychological needs are not satisfied, it may result in maladaptive and compensatory behaviour patterns. Research also indicated that need satisfaction, need dissatisfaction, and need thwarting are different constructs, each with its own associations with different levels of well-being or ill-being. This emphasises the importance of having valid and reliable measures to assess an individual’s levels of need (dis)satisfaction. The aim of this study was to investigate the psychometric properties of the Basic Psychological Needs Scale (BPNS), a measure of basic psychological need satisfaction, in a South African student sample, by exploring its factorial validity, internal consistency reliability, and the criterion-related validity. This study formed part of the FORT 3 umbrella project which was approved by the Ethics Committee of the North-West University, South Africa, with project number NWU 00002-07-A2. A quantitative, cross-sectional survey design was employed. The participants were a nonprobability sample of 322 students from multiple campuses from a South African university. Participants were between 18 and 54 years of age. Each participant completed a battery of measurement scales, including the BPNS. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to determine the factor structure of the BPNS. The results indicated that neither a one-factor, nor a three-factor model fitted the original 21-item BPNS. After problematic items were removed a three factor, 17-item measure with a negatively worded method effect best fitted our data. However, the fit was only marginal and internal consistency reliability indicators remained low. Although the 17-item BPNS had good criterion-related validity, the marginal factorial validity and low internal consistency reliability suggest that the scale should be used with caution in the present context. Specifically, an inspection of the remaining items indicated potential theoretical problems such as that the real meaning, or the full extent, of the intended constructs was not captured. There were also duplicated and ambiguous items. In addition, negatively worded items could tap a different dimension of each construct, while contextual and cultural factors could also have influenced how items operated in the present sample. Future research may focus on investigating the psychometric properties of the BPNS in different populations. An emic approach to understanding basic psychological needs in a South African context is suggested. Furthermore, the BPNS can be improved by rewriting or removing problematic items, and/or by constructing new items.
- Humanities