Psychological Reactions among First Year University Students: A Moderating Effects of Social Support

Mohd Zulkifli Abdullah, Abdul Kadir Othman, Muhamaad Iskandar Hamzah, Annurizal Anuar, Naliza Solat, Zuria Akmal Saad


University students are constantly influenced by multiple stressors from different aspects of their lives and the society. Life and academic stress often generate difficulties and impact on university students' psychological reactions. The present study aimed to examine the moderating effects of social support on the relationship between perceived competence, self-determination and learning environment on the psychological reactions (intrinsic motivation and stress) among first year university students. Analysing a total of 863 responses collected from the respective respondents, the findings indicated that the all predictors associate with intrinsic motivation and stress. Besides, the results also revealed that social support is not a moderating variable for the relationship between the independent variables (perceived competence, learning environment and self-determination) and intrinsic motivation and stress. The implications of the study are further discussed in the paper.


Psychological Reactions, Intrinsic Motivation, Stress, Perceived Competence, Self-Determination, Learning Environment, Social Support

Full Text:



Huang, Y., Lv, W., & Wu, J. (2016). Relationship between Intrinsic Motivation and Undergraduate Students’ Depression and Stress: The Moderating Effect of Interpersonal Conflict. Psychological reports, 119(2), 527-538.

Chow, K., & Healey, M. (2008). Place attachment and place identity: First-year undergraduates making the transition from home to university. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 28(4), 362–372.

Wilcox, P., Winn, S., & Fyvie-Gauld, M. (2005). It was nothing to do with the university, it was just the people: The role of social support in the first-year experience of higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 30(6), 707–722.

Pintrich, P. R., & De Groot, E. V. (1990). Motivational and self-regulated learning components of classroom academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(1), 33–40.

Amabile, T. M., Hill, K. G., Hennessey, B. A., & Tighe, E. M. (1994). The work preference inventory: Assessing intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66(5), 950–967.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. (2002). Overview of self-determination theory: An organismic dialectical perspective. In E. L. Deci & R. Ryan (Eds), Handbook of self-determination research (pp. 3–33). Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

Reeve, J. (2012). A self-determination theory perspective on student engagement. In S. L. Christenson, A. L. Reschly & C. Wylie (Eds.), Handbook of research on student engagement (pp. 149–172). New York, NY: Springer. Proceedings of the 7th CIRP international conference on digital enterprise technology; 2011.

Ferrer-Caja, E., & Weiss, M. R. (2000). Predictors of intrinsic motivation among adolescent students in physical education. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 71(3), 267–279.

Burton, K. D., Lydon, J. E., D’Alessandro, D. U., & Koestner, R. (2006). The differential effects of intrinsic and identified motivation on well-being and performance: Prospective, experimental, and implicit approaches to self-determination theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(4), 750–762.

Ekpenyong, Christopher, E., Nyebuk E. Daniel, & E. O. Aribo. (2013). Associations between academic stressors, reaction to stress, coping strategies and musculoskeletal disorders among college students. Ethiopian journal of health sciences 23, (2), 98-112.

Busari, A.O. (2011). Validation of student academic stress scale (SASS). European Journal of Social Sciences, 21 (1), 94-105.

Busari, A.O & Eniola, M.S. (2007). Effect of stress management training on self-image of visually impaired individuals: Essays in Education. Online Journal, University of South Carolina Aiken, 19:10.

Carveth, J.A., Gesse, T., & Moss, N. (1996). Survival strategies for Nurse-Midwifery students. Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 41, 50-54.

Elias, H., Ping, W. S., & Abdullah, M. C. (2011). Stress and academic achievement among undergraduate students in Universiti Putra Malaysia. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 29, 646-655.

Garcia-Ros, R., Perez-Gonzalez, F., Perez-Blasco, J., &Natividad, L. A. (2012). Academic Stress in first year college students, Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología, 44 (2), 143–154.

Cherif, A., F. Movahedzadeh, G. Adams, and J. Dunning. (2013). Why do students fail? In A collection of papers on self-study and institutional improvement, 2013, 35–51. Chicago: The Higher Learning Commission.

Staci Beth Friedman. (2003). The relationship between anxiety and self-perceived competence in children, ETD Collection for Pace University.

T. S. Horn (2004). Development perspective on self-perceptions in children and adolescents. Morgantown, WV: Fitness information technology, 101-143

Johan Ferla & Martin Valcke & Gilberte Schuyten (2010). Judgments of self-perceived academic competence and their differential impact on students’ achievement motivation, learning approach, and academic performance. European Journal of Psychology of Education. 25, 519–536

Buch, R., Säfvenbom, R., & Boe, O. (2015). The relationship between academic self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation and perceived competence. Journal Of Military Studies, 6(1). Retrieved from

Zamalia, M. & Porter, A. (2016). Students' perceived understanding and competency in probability concepts in an e-learning environment: An Australian experience. Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, 24 (October), 73-82.

Zamalia, M. & Porter, A. (2016). Students' perceived understanding and competency in probability concepts in an e-learning environment: An Australian experience. Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, 24 (October), 73-82.

Laura Bortoli, Maurizio Bertollo, Silvia Comani & Claudio Robazza (2011). Competence, achievement goals, motivational climate, and pleasant psychobiosocial states in youth sport. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29:2, 171-180.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2002). An overview of self-determination theory: An organismic dialectical perspective. In E. L. Deci & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of self-determination research, pp. 3-33. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester..

Arif Hasan (2014). Managing students’ motivation: An empirical study from self-determination perspective. 2nd International Conference on Management from an Islamic Perspective (ICMIP-2 2014), International Islamic University Malaysia.

Arif Hassan & Ibrahim Al-Jubari (2016). Motivation and Study Engagement: A Study of Muslim Undergraduates in Malaysia. Pertanika J. Soc. Sci. & Hum. 24 (3): 937 – 951.

Andrew P. Hill. (2013). Motivation and university experience in first-year university students: A self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education. 13, p. 244 – 254.

Niemiec, C.P., and Ryan R.M., (2009). Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness in the Classroom: Applying Self-Determination Theory to Educational Practice. Theory and Research in Education, 7 (2), 133-144.

Said, N. M., Rogayah, J., & Hafizah, A. (2009). A study of learning environments in the Kulliyyah (Faculty) of Nursing, International Islamic University Malaysia. The Malaysian journal of medical sciences: MJMS, 16(4), 15.

Bedewy, D., & Gabriel, A. (2015). Examining perceptions of academic stress and its sources among university students: The Perception of Academic Stress Scale. Health psychology open, 2(2), 2055102915596714.

Lee, V. E., Smith, J. B., Perry, T. E., & Smylie, M. A. (1999). Social Support, Academic Press, and Student Achievement: A View from the Middle Grades in Chicago. Improving Chicago's Schools. A Report of the Chicago Annenberg Research Project.

Dzulkifli, M. A., & Yasin, A. S. (2009). The effect of social support and psychological problems on students’ academic performance. In Second International Conference of Teaching and Learning at INTI University College, Malaysia. International Islamic University Malaysia.

J. A. M. Murcia, E. C. Gimeno and A. M. Camacho, Measuring self-determination motivation in a physical fitness setting: validation of the Behavioral Regulation in Exercise Questionnaire-2 (BREQ-2) in a Spanish sample. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 47, 3, 366 (2007).

A. Burdorf and T. Bruggeling, Reliability of a questionnaire on sickness absence with specific attention to absence due to back pain and respiratory complaints. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 53(1), 58-62 (1996).

W. J. Meerding W. Ijzelenberg M.A. Koopmanschap J.L. Severens and A. Burdorf, Health problems lead to considerable productivity loss at work among workers with high physical load jobs. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 58, 517–523 (2005).

Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of health and social behavior, 385-396.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Revista Publicando.

Licencia de Creative Commons


This Content is available under licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-CompartirIgual 4.0 Internacional.