Home » Educational Theories, Featured

Self-Determination Theory (Deci and Ryan)

Summary: Self-Determination Theory is a theory of motivation and personality that addresses three universal, innate and psychological needs: competence, autonomy, and psychological relatedness.

Originators: Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, psychologists at the University of Rochester.

Key Terms: motivation, competence, autonomy, relatedness

Self-Determination Theory (Deci and Ryan)

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) is an important theory of motivation that addresses issues of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. People have innate psychological needs:


  • Competence
  • Relatedness
  • Autonomy

If these universal needs are met, the theory argues that people will function and grow optimally.  To actualize their inherent potential, the social environment needs to nurture these needs.

Seek to control the outcome and experience mastery.

Is the universal want to interact, be connected to, and experience caring for others.

Is the universal urge to be causal agents of one’s own life and act in harmony with one’s integrated self; however, Deci and Vansteenkiste note this does not mean to be independent of others

Motivation has often been grouped into two main types: extrinsic and intrinsic.  With extrinsicmotivation, a person tends to do a task or activity mainly because doing so will yield some kind of reward or benefit upon completion.  Intrinsic motivation, in contrast, is characterized by doing something purely because of enjoyment or fun.

Deci, Lens and Vansteenkiste (2006) conducted a study that demonstrated intrinsic goal framing (compared to to extrinsic goal framing and no-goal framing) produced
deeper engagement in learning activities, better conceptual learning, and higher persistence at learning activities.

More details here

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)