The effects of autonomy-supportive versus controlling environments on self-talk

Emily J. Oliver, David Markland, James Hardy, Caroline M. Petherick

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    46 Citations (SciVal)


    Based within a self-determination theory framework (SDT: Deci and Ryan, Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behaviour. Plenum Publishing Co., New York, 1985), the present study examined the effects of manipulating social-contextual conditions on the content of individuals’ self-talk. Seventy student volunteers were randomly assigned to a controlling or autonomy-supportive experimental condition. Participants were instructed to ‘think-aloud’ throughout a 10-min computerized task during which self-verbalizations were recorded. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim, and then analysed using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count Program (LIWC; Pennebaker et al., LIWC2001; Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (software and manual). Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, 2001). Inductive content analyses were also conducted. Triangulation of the quantitative and qualitative findings revealed that in the autonomy-supportive condition, individuals’ self-talk was more informational and less controlling, with participants using more positive emotional words and assents, and fewer negative emotional words, swear words, and first person references than in the controlling condition. The findings suggest that social-context can affect cognitive factors such as self-talk and further support the promotion of autonomy-supportive environments.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)200-212
    Number of pages13
    JournalMotivation and Emotion
    Issue number3
    Early online date05 Aug 2008
    Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2008


    • Self-determination theory
    • Cognitions
    • Private speech
    • Social context


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