A review and empirical comparison of motivation scoring methods: an application to self-determination theory

Joshua L. Howard, Marylène Gagné, Anja Van den Broeck, Frédéric Guay, Nikos Chatzisarantis, Nikos Ntoumanis, Luc G. Pelletier

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Self-determination Theory differentiates various types of motivation, each of which have different consequences for well-being and behavior. Despite broad agreement concerning the nature of different types of motivation, numerous scoring methods, each of which rely on different assumptions, are commonly practiced. These practices range from a relative autonomy index that collapses all types of motivation into a single index, higher-order models grouping subscales into a two-factor solution, to multi-factorial approaches examining all motivation types as separate constructs. Existing evidence has not empirically compared these methods or clearly favored the use of one over another. We review each method and further investigate the advantages and disadvantages of each approach by directly comparing a range of commonly utilized scoring methods, as well as recently developed methods across six independent samples from various life domains to determine their effectiveness. Results generally favor multidimensional methods (e.g., exploratory structural equation modeling, B-ESEM, and CFA) as more comprehensive scoring practices as they maximize construct relevant information. However, selection of an ideal method will rely on theoretical congruence between methodology and research questions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-548
Number of pages15
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Bifactor
  • ESEM
  • Higher-order
  • Motivation
  • RAI
  • Self-determination theory

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