Gratitude,  Happiness,  Positive Psychology,  Resilience,  Self Determination,  Wellbeing

Self Determination Theory

At the moment we are all being forced into a situation that most of us would not chose, Isolation.  The lack of self determination we are currently feeling is adding to the stress and discomfort that we are feeling.

My interest in Self Determination Theory (SDT) stems from the question of coercion and how that makes a difference to how motivated and involved you are to engage in something and to what the likely outcome will be namely do you engage, and encourage others to engage.

SDT stems from an Arostoletian view of human development.  We are integrating Organisims with a coherent sense of self. This is a psychodynamic and humanistic theory of personality.  Built on a Humanist (White 1963) and Actualizing (Maslow 1955) theory of development as well as the work of cognitive development theorists such as Piaget (1971).  Maslow (1954, 1956) and Rogers (1961, 1963) suggest that distress occurs when people behave to obtain the approval of others, rather than on the basis of their own inherent needs and wants.  Self-determination theory, like other organismic models (e.g., Piaget, 1971; Werner, 1948), assumes that people are active agents whose engagement with their world leads to an ever more elaborated and refined set of internal processes and structures.

Central to self-determination theory is the distinction between autonomous and controlling forms of motivation.  This distinction is often viewed on a continuum reflecting the perceived origin or cause of an individual’s motivated behaviour in a given context.  This continuum is known as the perceived locus of causality (PLOC, Ryan & Connell, 1989).  Autonomous motivation reflects engaging in a behaviour because it satisfies personally relevant goals and services the innate psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

Deci (1975) suggested that intrinsically motivated behaviours represent the prototype of self-determined activities.  They are activities that people do naturally and spontaneously when they feel free to follow their inner interests.  Ryan and Connell (1989) developed an approach to assessing the extent to which individuals are relatively autonomous vs. controlled in performing particular behaviours (e.g. doing homework).  The regulation of behaviour can take many forms and that these forms can be distinguished along a continuum of self-determination, as suggested by self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 1991).  Numerous studies have related the motivational processes outlined in self-determination theory to educationally relevant outcomes, that is, to the quality of learning, performance, and adjustment. What you may need to discover for yourself at this very difficult time is a list of all of the excellent reasons why you are choosing to self-isolate and the lifesaving benefits that it is bringing for yourself and those around you.  This may help remove the additional stress you are feeling from being forced to do something you do not want to do.

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