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Positive Psychology in Practice: Promoting Human Flourishing in Work, Health, Education, and Everyday Life, 2nd Edition by Stephen Joseph

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Chapter 9A Self-Determination Theory Perspective on Fostering Healthy Self-Regulation From Within and Without

KIRK WARREN BROWN AND RICHARD M. RYAN

Many theories view motivation as a unitary phenomenon that varies only in its strength. Yet a deeper analysis readily shows that individuals vary not only in how much motivation they possess but also in the orientation or type of motivation that energizes their behavior. For example, some people go to work each day because they find their jobs interesting, meaningful, even enjoyable, whereas others may do the same thing only because financial pressures demand it. Similarly, some students study out of a deep curiosity and an inner desire to learn, whereas others study only to obtain good grades or meet requirements. In these examples, both groups may be highly motivated, but the nature and focus of the motivation—that is, the “why” of the person's behavior—clearly varies, as do the consequences. For instance, the curious student may learn more than the required material, process it more deeply, talk more with others about it, and remember it more enduringly. This difference may not show up immediately on a test score, but it may have many ramifications for the student's emotional and intellectual development.

Self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000) argues that motivational orientations that guide behavior have important consequences for healthy behavioral regulation and psychological well-being. Self-determination ...

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