Representations of relatedness with parents and friends and autonomous academic motivation during the late adolescence-early adulthood period: Reciprocal or unidirectional effects?

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Background: The literature on the determinants of academic motivation indicates that social and affective processes connected to students' interpersonal relationships are central elements in understanding students' academic motivation and other school-related outcomes. Aims: The aim of this study was to answer the following questions: Does autonomous motivation drive representations of relatedness, do representations of relatedness drive autonomous motivation, or are these constructs reciprocally related over time? Sample: The sample consists of 834 adolescents aged 18 years (SD = 1.88) who participated in a 3-year longitudinal study. Results: Results from the structural equation models provided good support for the effect of representations of relatedness with parents on autonomous academic motivation but no convincing support for the effect of motivation on representations of relatedness with parents. In addition, no significant effect in either direction was found between representations of relatedness with friends and autonomous academic motivation. Conclusion: It might be important to inform parents that they may still have an influence on their adolescent's representations of relatedness and subsequently on his/her autonomous academic motivation even during the late adolescence–early adulthood period, a period when some parents may be tempted to believe that they can do little to motivate their offspring.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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