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We sought to identify teachers' personality-based antecedents that tend them toward an autonomy-supportive or controlling motivating style. We assessed both aspects of teachers' motivating styles at the beginning of the semester (T1, Time 1) and again after all teachers had completed a semester-long intervention (T2) to learn how to become more autonomy supportive and less controlling. At the start of the semester, 42 full-time elementary-grade teachers (25 females, 17 males) completed a packet of questionnaires to self-report their core traits (the big five) and eight surface traits (e.g., causality orientations, authoritarianism) that we hypothesized would predict one motivating style or the other, while their 633 students self-reported their autonomous motivation. Regression-based analyses revealed four findings: (1) High levels of openness to experience and agreeableness both individually predicted teachers' T1 autonomy-supportive motivating style; (2) high levels of control causality orientation and authoritarianism both individually predicted T1 controlling motivating style; (3) high levels of autonomy causality orientation and personal growth initiative both individually predicted a post-intervention change in T2 autonomy-supportive motivating style; and (4) high level of control causality orientation predicted a post-intervention change in T2 controlling motivating style. These findings suggest a robust relation between personality and teachers' motivating styles.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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