The purpose of the current study is to test the self-determination theory (SDT) continuum hypothesis of motivation using latent profile analysis (LPA). A total of 3,220 school students took part in the study. We compared LPA solutions estimated using the four motivation types versus the two higher-order dimensions to assess their degree of correspondence to the SDT continuum hypothesis. To examine the concurrent validity of the profiles, we also verified their associations with three predictors (age, gender, perception of physical education teachers’ autonomy-supportive behaviors) and two outcomes variables (perceived competence and intentions to be physically active). The results showed that profiling using the four motivation types provides more differentiated and meaningful description of responses to the Perceived Locus of Causality Scale, compared with profiling using two higher-order factors. In general, the results of the current study were consistent with the SDT continuum hypothesis of human motivation.
John C.K. Wang is with National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Tianjin University of Sport, Tianjin, China. Alexandre J.S. Morin is with Dept. of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. Richard M. Ryan is with the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, NSW, Australia, and with the Dept. of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY. W.C. Liu is with the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.