Self-determination theory proposes that behavior change will occur and persist if it is autonomously motivated. Autonomous motivation for a behavior is theorized to be a function both of individual differences in the autonomy orientation from the General Causality Orientations Scale and of the degree of autonomy supportiveness of relevant social contexts. We tested the theory with 128 patients in a 6-month, very-low-calorie weight-loss program with a 23-month follow-up. Analyses confirmed the predictions that (a) participants whose motivation for weight loss was more autonomous would attend the program more regularly, lose more weight during the program, and evidence greater maintained weight loss at follow-up, and (b) participants' autonomous motivation for weight loss would be predicted both by their autonomy orientation and by the perceived autonomy supportiveness of the interpersonal climate created by the health-care staff.
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