This article is about the psychology theory. Determination of the level of development of the child the self-determination in politics, see Self-determination.
It is concerned with the motivation behind choices people make without external influence and interference. SDT focuses on the degree to which an individual’s behavior is self-motivated and self-determined. Key studies that led to emergence of SDT included research on intrinsic motivation. Deci and Richard Ryan later expanded on the early work differentiating between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and proposed three main intrinsic needs involved in self-determination. SDT is centered on the belief that human nature shows persistent positive features, that it repeatedly shows effort, agency and commitment in their lives that the theory calls “inherent growth tendencies”. People also have innate psychological needs that are the basis for self-motivation and personality integration.
To actualise their inherent potential they need nurturing from the social environment. SDT supports three basic psychological needs that must be satisfied to foster well-being and health. These needs can be universally applied. However, some may be more salient than others at certain times and are expressed differently based on time, culture, or experience.
SDT claims to give a different approach to motivation, considering what motivates a person at any given time as opposed to seeing motivation as a unitary concept. SDT makes distinctions between different types of motivation and the consequences of them. Intrinsic motivation is the natural, inherent drive to seek out challenges and new possibilities that SDT associates with cognitive and social development. SDT that specifies factors explaining intrinsic motivation and variability with it and looks at how social and environmental factors help or hinder intrinsic motivations. CET focuses on the needs of competence and autonomy. Claiming social context events like feedback on work or rewards lead to feelings of competence and so enhance intrinsic motivations. Deci found positive feedback enhanced intrinsic motivations and negative feedback diminished it.
Autonomy, however, must accompany competence for people to see their behaviours as self determined by intrinsic motivation. For this to happen there must be immediate contextual support for both needs or inner resources based on prior development support for both needs. CET and intrinsic motivation is also linked to relatedness through the hypothesis that intrinsic motivation flourishes if linked with a sense of security and relatedness. Grolnick and Ryan found lower intrinsic motivation in children who believed their teachers to be uncaring or cold and so not fulfilling their relatedness needs. Extrinsic motivation comes from external sources.
SDT, to explain the different ways extrinsically motivated behaviour is regulated. OIT details the different forms of extrinsic motivation and the contexts in which they come about. It is the context of such motivation that concerns the SDT theory as these contexts affect whether the motivations are internalised and so integrated into the sense of self. Externally regulated behaviour: Is the least autonomous, it is performed because of external demand or possible reward. Such actions can be seen to have an externally perceived locus of causality.
Introjected regulation of behaviour: describes taking on regulations to behaviour but not fully accepting said regulations as your own. Deci and Ryan claim such behaviour normally represents regulation by contingent self-esteem, citing ego involvement as a classic form of introjections. Regulation through identification: Is a more autonomously driven form of extrinsic motivation. It involves consciously valuing a goal or regulation so that said action is accepted as personally important.