Do motivation and mindset predict life outcomes of older people?

Recent research by Lee et al. (2020) links self-determination theory and mindset theory. The research provides insight into how mindset and motivation are relevant to a good life in older people. The research also provides insight into how the fulfillment of basic psychological needs and mindset are related.

Do motivation and mindset predict life outcomes of older people?

Much research into motivation and mindset concerns young people and focuses on the educational context. However, the question is also very relevant how motivation and mindset apply to older people, especially since many societies have aging populations.


The researchers administered questionnaires to 130 people of over 40 years old in Singapore in which they measured the following constructs:

  1. Psychological need satisfaction: fulfillment of basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness.
  2. Creative Growth Mindset: concerns whether people see creativity as fixed or malleable (see examples of items)
  3. Life outcomes: a) Life adaptability, the ability to adapt to changing life circumstances, b) Satisfaction with life.


Via path analysis, the researchers found that both basic psychological needs and mindset were relevant to life outcomes of older people. The figure below summarizes the results.

The need for competence was a direct predictor of life adaptability, but not of life satisfaction. The need for relatedness directly predicted life satisfaction, but not life adaptability. Need for autonomy predicted direct life satisfaction, but also indirect life adaptability through creative growth mindset.


This is not a study to quickly draw big conclusions on if only because it involved a fairly small sample. But the thinking behind the research and the results are interesting and worth replicating. The research seems to confirm the notion that both self-determination theory and mindset theory are also relevant to older people.