We conducted a theoretical and psychometric evaluation of Self-determination theory’s "relative autonomy continuum," an important aspect of the theory whose validity has recently been questioned. We first derived a comprehensive relative autonomy index (C-RAI) containing six subscales and 24 items, by conducting a paired paraphrase content analysis of existing RAI measures. We administered the C-RAI to multiple U.S. and Russian samples, assessing motivation to attend class, study a major, and take responsibility. Item-level and scale-level multi-dimensional scaling analyses, confirmatory factor analyses, and simplex/circumplex modelling analyses re-affirmed the validity of the relative autonomy continuum, across multiple samples, stems, and studies. Validation analyses predicting subjective well-being and trait autonomy from the six separate subscales, in combination with various higher-order composites (weighted and unweighted), showed that an aggregate unweighted RAI score provides the most unbiased and efficient indicator of the overall quality of motivation within the behavioral domain being assessed.
We created a life-goal assessment drawing from self-determination theory and achievement goal literature, examining its predictive power regarding immoral behavior and subjective well-being. Our source items assessed direction and energization of motivation, via the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic aims and between intrinsic and extrinsic reasons for acting, respectively. Fused source items assessed four goal complexes representing a combination of direction and energization. Across three studies (Ns = 109, 121, and 398), the extrinsic aim/extrinsic reason complex was consistently associated with immoral and/or unethical behavior beyond four source and three other goal complex variables. This was consistent with the triangle model of responsibility’s claim that immoral behaviors may result when individuals disengage the self from moral prescriptions. The extrinsic/extrinsic complex also predicted lower subjective well-being, albeit less consistently. Our goal complex approach sheds light on how self-determination theory’s goal contents and organismic integration mini-theories interact, particularly with respect to unethical behavior.
Stereotypes are ideological and justify the existing social structure. Although stereotypes persist, they can change when the context changes. Communism’s rise in Eastern Europe and Asia in the 20th century provides a natural experiment examining social-structural effects on social class stereotypes. Nine samples from post-communist countries (N = 2241), compared with 38 capitalist countries (N=4344), support the historical, socio-cultural rootedness of stereotypes. More positive stereotypes of the working class appear in post-communist countries, both compared with other social groups in the country and compared with working-class stereotypes in capitalist countries; post-communist countries also show more negative stereotypes of the upper class. We further explore whether communism’s ideological legacy reflects how societies infer groups’ stereotypic competence and warmth from structural status and competition. Post-communist societies show weaker status-competence relations and stronger (negative) competition-warmth relations; respectively, the lower meritocratic beliefs and higher priority of embeddedness as ideological legacies may shape these relationships.