Daily health habits : the effects of autonomy, competence, and relatedness
MetadataShow full item record
Are you more likely to take better care of yourself if you have a good day? To help explore this question I designed a daily diary study examining the relationship between psychological need satisfaction predicting health habits and overall well-being. Participants (N =234) took part in several surveys; a baseline session measuring person-level feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, in addition to motivations for working out and eating healthy. Then for 14 continuous days participants took daily surveys, measuring daily levels of needs satisfaction (through self-reporting on activities and social interactions), recording their health habits (diet, exercise, and sleep) and well-being (affect, vitality, symptomology). Daily fluctuations in need satisfaction seek to answers three research questions: 1) Are person-level feelings of need fulfillment (autonomy, competence, relatedness) in one’s life globally and motivation for health behaviors associated with health habits (exercise, diet, sleep)? 2) Do daily experiences of need satisfaction (daily autonomy, competence, relatedness) predict changes in daily health habits (exercise, diet, sleep), even after accounting for person-level feelings of need fulfillment and motivation for health habits? 3) Does person-level need fulfillment and daily experiences of need satisfaction predict changes in daily psychological and physical health? Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) was used for the primary tests. For this dataset, the lower level unit, days, is nested within the higher level unit, persons. Results indicate that daily fluctuations in need satisfaction do matter. Daily autonomy, at both the within- and between-person level, positively and significantly predict exercise behaviors and overall well-being. Daily competence, at both the within- and between-person level, positively and significantly predict fruit and vegetable intake and overall well-being. Daily relatedness, at both the within- and between-person level, positively and significantly predicts overall well-being. Above and beyond a person’s stable person-level indicators of these needs, daily fluctuations in need satisfaction are important for understanding why people engage in health habits, especially exercise. Findings have implications for helping people lead healthier lives, both physically and psychologically.