Jonas Enge
Jonas Enge@maccyber
Link Between Personality Traits and Basic Psychological Needs

Link Between Personality Traits and Basic Psychological Needs

3 min read

Recent research in the Journal of Research in Personality spearheaded by Martina Pocrnic from the University of Zagreb has provided new insights into how personality traits influence our ability to satisfy our basic psychological needs — autonomy, competence, and relatedness. This study identifies the traits that are pivotal in caring for these essential aspects of our well-being.

Key Findings

The study involved 668 Croatian adults who assessed their personality and the extent to which their psychological needs were met. It focused on how traits like extraversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness contribute to fulfilling our inherent psychological needs.

Psychological Needs and Their Importance:

  • Sense of Competence: Feeling effective and capable of expanding one’s abilities.
  • Sense of Autonomy: Having the freedom to make one’s own choices.
  • Sense of Relatedness: Feeling connected and a sense of belonging with others.

Using the Big Five model of personality, the study measured these traits and their impact on need satisfaction. The results revealed that:

  • Extraversion and neuroticism had the most significant impact across all three needs. Extraversion positively influenced need satisfaction, while neuroticism had a negative effect.
  • Conscientiousness was crucial for satisfying the need for competence, suggesting that disciplined and organized individuals are more likely to feel effective in their endeavors.
  • Agreeableness was essential for meeting the needs for autonomy and relatedness, indicating that cooperative and compassionate individuals find it easier to connect with others and make autonomous decisions.

Personality's Role in Need Satisfaction

Pocrnic explains, "A highly extraverted person often has a broad social network, which enhances their ability to meet their need for relatedness through frequent social interactions." Conversely, a conscientious student might achieve greater competence by engaging in diligent study habits, thus feeling more capable and effective.

The Dynamic Nature of Personality Traits

An intriguing aspect of this study is the emphasis on the malleability of personality traits. While traits are generally stable, they are not immutable. Interventions like meditation or mindfulness can modify aspects of our personalities, such as reducing neuroticism, which can lead to better satisfaction of our psychological needs.

Future Directions

The researchers are keen on delving deeper into which specific facets of neuroticism (e.g., anxiety, depression, anger, or vulnerability) most affect the satisfaction of psychological needs. Such insights could lead to more targeted approaches in psychological interventions and therapies.


This study by Martina Pocrnic and her team marks a significant advance in understanding the complex interplay between our personality and our basic psychological needs. It not only underscores the impact of individual traits on our ability to satisfy these needs but also highlights the potential for personal growth and development through understanding and modifying our personality traits.


Personality traits and psychological needs
Martina Pocrnic research
Big Five model impact
Autonomy and personality
Competence and conscientiousness
Relatedness and agreeableness
Extraversion benefits
Neuroticism drawbacks
Psychological well-being
Personality trait malleability
Mindfulness and personality change
Croatian psychological study
Social networks and extraversion
Personal growth through personality
Psychological interventions
Targeting neuroticism
Personality and mental health
University of Zagreb study
Personality assessments
Future directions in personality research