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This study examines profiles of University students defined based on the types of behavioral regulation proposed by self-determination theory (SDT), as well as the within-person and within-sample stability in these academic motivation profiles across a two-month period. This study also documents the implications of these profiles for students’ engagement, disengagement, and achievement, and investigates the role of self-oriented perfectionism in predicting profile membership. A sample of 504 first-year undergraduates completed all measures twice across a two-month period. Latent profile analysis and latent transition analysis revealed six distinct motivation profiles, which proved identical across measurement points. Membership into the Autonomous, Strongly Motivated, Poorly Motivated, and Controlled profiles was very stable over time, while membership into the Moderately Autonomous and Moderately Unmotivated profiles was moderately stable. Self-oriented perfectionism predicted a higher likelihood of membership into the Autonomous and Strongly Motivated profiles, and a lower likelihood of membership into the Controlled profile. The Autonomous, Strongly Motivated, and Moderately Autonomous profiles were associated with the most positive outcomes, while the Poorly Motivated and Controlled profiles were associated with the most negative outcomes. Of particular interest, the combination of high autonomous motivation and high controlled motivation (Strongly Motivated profile) was associated with positive outcomes, which showed that autonomous motivation was able to buffer even high levels of controlled motivation.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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