Facilitation of the Innate Need of Relatedness Through Self-Regulated Expressive Writing

Date of Graduation

Summer 2006


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Chantal Levesque


Research on expressive writing began in the late 1980's and has grown since then. It has been shown to be beneficial in different settings and populations including reduction of physician and health center visits. While research on expressive writing has demonstrated its benefits, the reasons behind its effectiveness are not fully known. One explanation is the idea of self-regulation. Self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) states that humans have innate needs of competence, relatedness and autonomy. These needs are essential and key to a person's psychological growth. The present study examined the effects of writing about a needs being satisfied or not on various outcomes including motivation and well-being. Three experimental groups were created: one group wrote about situations where their relatedness need was met, one group wrote about situations in which their relatedness needs was not met and one group served as a control group. The groups received writing instructions congruent with self-determination theory (relatedness needs being met), not congruent with self-determination theory (needs not being met) or a neutral topic. Results indicate an increase in overal happiness, percentage of time being happy, autonomy and competence as the experiment progressed from the first to last writing. Group differences were not significant.


expressive writing, happiness, well-being, self-determination theory, positive psychology

Subject Categories



© Bradley M. Bodenhamer