Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Psychology



First Advisor

Carrie V. Smith

Second Advisor

Stephanie E. Miller

Third Advisor

Sarah A. Bilsky

Relational Format



Individuals frequently work collaboratively with others in school, workplaces, and in their daily lives. As such, the group literature has focused on several concerns that individuals have in groups such as making choices with others, feeling competent, and getting along with others. One such theory that addresses these concerns at the individual level is self-determination theory, or the idea that people must be satisfied in their needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness to experience growth and well-being. The purpose of this project was to determine whether self-determination theory replicates in groups and whether individuals’ perceptions that their groups are autonomous, competent, and related is associated with their own well-being. Undergraduate students met in small groups over Zoom and played the cooperative board game, Forbidden Island® (Gamewright, 2010). Participants responded to how satisfied and frustrated they were in their own basic psychological needs, as well as how satisfied and frustrated they thought their group was in these needs, at several points during the game. Self-determination theory did not replicate well in this context. Specifically, how autonomous one felt in their own personal psychological needs did not predict any well-being measures. People did rate their group’s psychological needs as being different from their personal needs, but perceptions of group basic psychological needs only accounted for additional variance in negative affect. Thus, perceptions of how one’s group is doing may not matter when a person is satisfied in their personal needs, but people’s well-being may be negatively affected when they perceive their groups are not doing well.


Experimental Psychology



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