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Self-Determination Theory

  • By: Arlen C. Moller, Edward L. Deci & Richard M. Ryan
  • In: Encyclopedia of Social Psychology
  • Edited by: Roy F. Baumeister & Kathleen D. Vohs
  • Subject:Social Psychology (general)

The self-determination theory (SDT), formulated by Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, is a broad theory of human motivation for which the concept of basic or universal psychological needs for competence, relatedness, and self-determination and the differentiation of types of motivation (autonomous, controlled) are central and defining features. SDT posits that the type, rather than amount, of motivation is the more important predictor of outcomes, and that the type of motivation is determined by the degree of satisfaction of the basic needs. The theory predicts, and empirical evidence has confirmed, that satisfaction of the basic needs, and being motivated autonomously, are associated with important positive outcomes, such as enhanced well-being, improved learning, and greater persistence. Studies also show that when authority figures are ...

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