Maladaptive behavior in relation to the basic psychological needs of students in secondary education

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Much research has been done into the relationship between students’ motivation to learn and their basic psychological needs as defined by the self-determination theory (autonomy, competence, relatedness). However, few studies have explored how these psychological needs relate to different types of maladaptive behavior in the classroom. To prevent or remedy such behavior, more insight into its relationships is required. The present study attempted to determine the relationship between maladaptive behavior of secondary school students (grades 8 and 9) and the degree to which both teachers and peers address their needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Results show significant, negative correlations between maladaptive student behavior in the classroom and the extent to which students’ basic psychological needs are met by teachers and fellow students. Both teachers and fellow students play a role in students’ maladaptive behavior toward school and withdrawn behavior. When it comes to unfriendly behavior, the perceived support of teachers appears to be particularly relevant, while the role of peers is an important factor in delinquent behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-619
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychology of Education
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019


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