For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Self-determination theory"

by Deci, Edward L; Ryan, Richard M (2012)


Self-determination theory (SDT) is an empirically derived theory of human motivation and personality in social contexts that differentiates motivation in terms of being autonomous and controlled. Work leading to the theory began with experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. During more than thirty years since the initial studies, we have developed five mini-theories to address different, though related, issues: the effects of social environments on intrinsic motivation; the development of autonomous extrinsic motivation and self-regulation through internalization and integration; individual differences in general motivational orientations; the functioning of fundamental universal psychological needs that are essential for growth, integrity, and wellness; and the effects of different goal contents on well-being and performance. We have subsequently used SDT and its mini-theories to guide and interpret research on many new issues, including motivation and wellness across cultures, close relationships, enhancement and depletion of energy and vitality, and the roles of both mindful awareness and nonconscious processes in behavioral regulation. Although much of SDT was developed through laboratory experiments, it is also supported by a great deal of applied research using both field studies and clinical trials to address significant social issues. We briefly mention some of that work, especially related to health behavior change, education, psychotherapy, work motivation, sport and exercise, and prosocial behaviors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)


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Self-Determination Theory

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