Self-determination theory (SDT) provides a framework for understanding the factors that promote motivation and healthy psychological and behavioral functioning. In this authoritative work, the codevelopers of the theory comprehensively examine SDT's conceptual underpinnings (including its six mini-theories), empirical evidence base, and practical applications across the lifespan. The volume synthesizes a vast body of research on how supporting--or thwarting--people's basic needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy affects their development and well-being. Chapters cover implications for practice and policy in education, health care, psychotherapy, sport, and the workplace.
Read this book. It is unfortunately dense and very long - but it is incredibly important. Lots of things that we might feel are 'right' but are unsure if they are really 'true' are brilliantly and simply understood, and decades of rigorous evidence is brought to bear. So for example: that helping people to be to be self directed means they will be happier and more effective in their work; that children flourish when they feel they belong, feel competent and feel they are choosing where their learning goes; that external control diminishes motivation; that integrity and acting according to our values is highly correlated with wellbeing; that performance related pay diminishes intrinsic motivation, even if it can 'force' specific goals or outcomes; that 'forcing' people to adopt behaviours also diminishes people's intrinsic motivation for those behaviours; that goals chosen for people are less enthusiastically pursued than goals we choose for ourselves; that parental pressure to achieve specific outcomes causes introjected values, which diminish intrinsic motivation and enjoyment and increase likelihood of anxiety disorders... this list goes on for 650 pages. It is an incredible text - from parenting to genocide, it has amazing insights... and it is practical - there are numerous things you immediately want to do with your colleagues, in your classroom and at home.
It's great book, it's probably the most detailed book about how humans are motivated. It shares a lot of scientific studies proving autonomy, competence and relatedness are 3 basic needs for human motivation. I definitely suggest this book to people who wants to go deep in understanding motivation.
If you are looking for a very extensive and informative empirical basis for SDT, then this is your book. What I found the most interesting was the historical review of theories and ideas that paved the path for SDT. I also found the chapters on parenting, psychopathology, and psychotherapy rather practical, despite the book being not about that. And speaking of the theoretical and empirical density of the book, I felt that the authors could have talked more on the application of SDT. So, bear in mind, that's not a weekend read.
The effort is laudable, but it is difficult to push aside the feeling that a great deal of research covered in the book suffers from the "WEIRD" curse, even when done outside the USA (see the work done by Joe Henrich on that). Chapter on human nature is unconvincing and reflect a 20th-21th Century bias, in my view. Dismissing of other potential universal needs, unconvincing as well. What to make of the innate need for status and its physiological and psychological consequences when thwarted in highly inequal societies? (See Michael Marmot and Keith Payne's work, among others). Speaking of which, when the reasosing goes evolutionary, I missed more depth and discussions on how cultural evolution shaped our collaboration proneness (perhaps the authors would be shocked to learn the role of war on this - see Peter Turchin's work) and the constant tension between exploitation and naiveté found in every human group (evolutionary game theory would help here). Overall, SDT is an important theory and it has many applications to modern world. If you are interested in shaping better workplaces and schools, fostering better parenthood and designing good public policies that impact people, for instance, you should read the book. It provides the most extensive and updated covering of the theory so far. Finally, I think the authors should have invited a critique to write a chapter and provide a more nuanced view on the theory.
University-level reading. Hundreds of indivudual Psychological research studies demonstrate how people can become their best selves through three main facets of behaviour; by allowing one to choose their own destiny, fostering an environment where a person feels emotionally satisfied and also feeling competent in endeavours. These are the three ways to allow people to develop and/or feel happy in their lives - nothing is more important. These facets apply to everything from picking one's shoes for the day to choosing one's career. Rewards for performance negatively effect motivation because people learn to operate their environment for rewards and not for intrinsic enjoyment; instead emphasis should always be placed on providing the one choosing with as much unbiased and pertinent information as possible. Remember enabling someone to be their best self does not mean choosing for them, it means providing an atmosphere where one always feels like their steering the ship, feels competent and emotionally close to you. It's not easy to create a supportive environment, but how you affect a person determines how they see you, but also what they become because of you. You can read the textbook, or you can simply let autonomy, competence and relatedness be your guide and maximizing these in who you are affecting will allow that person to most quickly become who they will become.
This is one of my primary sources for my action research study on motivation in education. I read this book, parts of it, upon the recommendation of a friend pursuing a doctorate in education. After talking to my friend about my motivation research study, he suggested two books based on my lighter motivation reading interests, including Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Where Drive just touches the surface on the psychological needs of motivation, this book is the bedrock...deep down. It was a godsend for me to read what I did as I continue to work to understand the elusive motivation.
An essential book for those who want to understand human motivation. Moreover it is beautifully written. It was a pleasure to read chapter after chapter as the authors offered fascinating historical context to the concepts in SDT, presented years of research by hundreds of scholars, and offered useful insights into applications. If only more researchers did this good a job!