Three Basic Needs Related to Happiness
A low level of stress is one of the key features of happiness. Researchers at the University of Rochester and the University of Missouri, Columbia recently investigated the connection between daily variations in happiness and daily variations in the degree to which people satisfy three basic needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Autonomy refers to being able to do what you want to without being controlled by others. Competence refers to having the ability to meet the challenges you face. Relatedness refers to experiencing positive relationships with others.
What was the research about?
Sixty-seven undergraduate students participated in the study. After an initial testing session, participants responded to measures of autonomy, competence, relatedness, happiness, and illness-related symptoms everyday for 14 days. They found that the degree to which daily activities helped people meet the three basic needs (i.e., autonomy, competence, and relatedness) was related to how happy they were. The more that these needs were met, the happier they were. Additionally, the more that autonomy and competence needs were satisfied, the less that illness-related symptoms were experienced.
Why should it matter to me?
People may be able to live happier, less illness-prone lives by trying to satisfy their autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs in their daily lives. For example, people could try to engage in more behaviors that are not controlled by others, to go after challenges that match their abilities, and to participate in positive relationships with others.
Source: Reis, H. T., Sheldon, K. M., Gable, S. L., Roscoe, J., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 419-435..