Self-determination theory (SDT) proposes that all humans have a need for competence. But is this need modulated by individual differences? Our research integrated SDT, which defines psychological needs (including competence) as universally essential experiences, and motive disposition theories, which define psychological needs as individually varying non-conscious motives. A cross-sectional and a longitudinal study showed that felt competence in a sports activity has especially positive effects on subsequent flow and intrinsic motivation for individuals high in the need for achievement. Study 3 showed that felt competence more strongly influences subsequent academic goal motivation for those high in the need for achievement. Discussion focuses on the importance of integrating universalist and individual difference approaches to motivation, to derive the most complete understanding.