Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Steven J. Danish

Second Advisor

Jeffrey D. Green

Third Advisor

Scott D. McDonald

Fourth Advisor

Treven C. Pickett

Fifth Advisor

Paul B. Perrin


OBJECTIVE: This study explores psychological experiences that may influence service members’ self-concepts and future orientations. As stable, optimistic, future orientations have been associated with resilience to psychological distress and suicidality (Johnson, et al., 2011), it is worthwhile to explore how service members’ attitudes toward the future might be shaped in the context of intrapersonal and interpersonal experiences. METHOD: Data were collected from service members of the Virginia National Guard (N = 192) and included a Transportation unit, an Engineer unit, an Infantry unit and a group with no specific unit affiliation or substantive military experience. The study is a cross-sectional design that seeks support for the hypothesis that interpersonal and intrapersonal psychological needs differentially influence one’s future orienation. RESULTS: Analysis demonstrated that autonomy, competence and relatedness each play partial mediating roles with respect to the identity style-identity commitment relationship. Further analysis demonstrated that all three psychological needs also significantly predict identity commitment, but that the intrapersonal needs of autonomy and competence are stronger predictors than the interpersonal need, relatedness. The competing hypothesis that psychological needs balance would outperform the psychological needs variables as predictors of identity commitment was not confirmed. CONCLUSIONS: The data indicate that all three psychological needs variables are significantly influential (by degree and category) with regard to protective factors that involve identity-based processes and identity-based beliefs. Implications and areas for future research are discussed.


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