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Basic psychological needs, socioeconomic status and involvement in honors programs may impact well-being of undergraduate students. This exploratory study examines these factors and uses Self-Determination Theory as a lens to interpret the effect on well-being of undergraduate honors and non-honors students. Self-Determination Theory is a macro theory of motivation and personality development that relates to individuals’ need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, and addresses the social-emotional and cognitive components needed to ensure individuals’ well-being. In this study, researchers examined the relationship among basic psychological needs, socioeconomic status, honors participation, and well-being of 252 undergraduates. Results of a regression analysis indicated that well-being is primarily predicted by autonomy, competence, and relatedness. We discuss the implications of our findings for educators and researchers.

Keywords: basic psychological needs, self-determination theory, well-being, gifted, honors, postsecondary, undergraduate, motivation