Modeling self-determination theory motivation data by using unfolding IRT

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Self-determination theory (SDT) suggests that the degree of autonomous behavior regulation is a characteristic of distinct motivation types which thus can be ordered on the so-called Autonomy-Control Continuum (ACC). The present study employs an item response theory (IRT) model under the ideal point response/unfolding paradigm in order to model the response process to SDT motivation items in theoretical accordance with the ACC. Using data from two independent student samples (measuring SDT motivation for the academic subjects of Mathematics and German as a native language), it was found that an unfolding model exhibited a relatively better fit compared to a dominance model. The item location parameters under the unfolding paradigm showed clusters of items representing the different regulation types on the ACC to be (almost perfectly) empirically separable, as suggested by SDT. Besides theoretical implications, perspectives for the application of ideal point response/unfolding models in the development of measures for non-cognitive constructs are addressed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychological Assessment
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)388-396
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2021

Bibliographical note

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    Research areas

  • Psychology - self-determination theory, motivation continuum, ideal response process/unfolding, IRT, Relative Autonomy Index