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Research in self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2002) has shown that satisfaction of autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs in sport contexts is associated with enhanced engagement, performance, and well-being. This article outlines the initial development of a multidimensional measure designed to assess psychological need thwarting, an under-studied area of conceptual and practical importance. Study 1 generated a pool of items designed to tap the negative experiential state that occurs when athletes perceive their needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness to be actively undermined. Study 2 tested the factorial structure of the questionnaire using confirmatory factor analysis. The supported model comprised 3 factors, which represented the hypothesized interrelated dimensions of need thwarting. The model was refined and cross-validated using an independent sample in Study 3. Overall, the psychological need thwarting scale (PNTS) demonstrated good content, factorial, and predictive validity, as well as internal consistency and invariance across gender, sport type, competitive level, and competitive experience. The conceptualization of psychological need thwarting is discussed, and suggestions are made regarding the use of the PNTS in research pertaining to the darker side of sport participation.
Kimberley J. Bartholomew is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom. Nikos Ntoumanis is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom. Richard Ryan is with Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York. Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom