The motivational antecedents of the development of mental toughness

a self-determination theory perspective

John Mahoney*, Nikos Ntoumanis, Clifford Mallett, Daniel Gucciardi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/opinion

30 Citations (Scopus)


Mental toughness is a topic that has received growing attention in psychological literature over the past decade. Although some researchers have attempted to understand how mental toughness is developed, little effort has been made to integrate an understanding of mental toughness development with established psychological theory and research. The aim of our review is to demonstrate the utility of theory and research on motivation for understanding mental toughness and its development. In particular, we propose that self-determination theory provides a sound basis for understanding the motivational antecedents of mental toughness. To achieve our aim, we consider concepts that bridge mental toughness and self-determination theory literature, namely striving, surviving, and thriving. We conclude our review with suggestions for future lines of empirical enquiry that could be pursued to further test our propositions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-197
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • basic psychological needs
  • psychological need thwarting
  • autonomy support
  • controlling coaching
  • athlete development

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The motivational antecedents of the development of mental toughness: a self-determination theory perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this