Basic psychological need frustration and coping styles
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Institute of Psychology, University of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Poland
Submission date: 2022-07-06
Final revision date: 2023-04-05
Acceptance date: 2023-10-30
Online publication date: 2024-01-04
Corresponding author
Maciej Barański   

Institute of Psychology, University of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Poland
The basic psychological need theory assumes that there are three universal psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Their satisfaction is a source of well-being and development. Their frustration results in malaise and the need to cope with actions reducing unpleasant tension, substituting or compensating for deficits. This study aimed to define the relationship between basic psychological need frustration and coping styles with the mediating role of stress. It was predicted that with stronger frustration, there would be stronger perceived stress and the tendency to develop an escape-avoidance coping style.

Participants and procedure:
The study included 626 participants (42.65% women) aged 18-40 (M = 22.22 ± 4.29). We used the following measures: PSS-10, COPE, and BPNS&FS. Exploratory factor analysis of COPE, correlations, and path analyses were performed.

Exploratory factor analysis of the COPE results distinguished four coping styles: 1) problem-focused, 2) emotion-focused, 3) meaning-focused, and 4) escape-avoidance. Need frustration was positively associated with perceived stress and the escape-avoidance style. We found both direct and indirect – through perceived stress – effects of need frustration on coping styles, especially the escape-avoidance coping style.

Frustration of basic psychological needs – autonomy, competence, and relatedness – can lead directly and through perceived stress to the formation of an escape-avoidance coping style.

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