- This research demonstrates the usefulness of the technique of Smallest Space Analysis (SSA) in the construction of indices of the experience of autonomy, a central construct in Ryan and Deci's self-determination theory of motivation and personality (SDT, 2000) and a construct central to recent controversies on socialization in different cultures. We propose that SSA has two advantages in comparison to correlation tables in the assessment of the experience of autonomy. First, it allows easy identification of items that best capture the various motivations along the relative autonomy continuum postulated by SDT. Second, and more important, it can reveal data patterns that might contribute to theoretical refinement that otherwise might remain unnoticed. These advantages were demonstrated in three Israeli samples: two samples of elementary school children (n = 697 and n = 417), and one sample of high school students (n = 317). Discussion considers ways in which SSA can contribute to the development and refinement of measures and theory pertaining to the experience of autonomy in cultures and contexts not examined so far. © 2006 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.