Deci and Ryan Self Determination Theory
What Is Self-Determination Theory?
Self-Determination Theory of human motivation was first developed by psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. Human motivation, here context, is what moves people to act. The theory looks at the inherent, positive human tendency to move towards growth and outlines three core needs that facilitate that growth. Those needs are Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness.
Self-determination theory is comprised of a few sub-theories, including cognitive evaluation theory and organismic integration theory.
- Cognitive Evaluation Theory.
- Organismic Integration Theory.
Cognitive Evaluation Theory
Cognitive evaluation theory (CET) was presented by Deci and Ryan (1985) as a sub theory within Self-Determination theory that aimed to specify factors that explain variability in intrinsic motivation.
Cognitive evaluation theory is framed in terms of social and environmental factors that facilitate versus undermine intrinsic motivation, using language that reflects the assumption that intrinsic motivation, being inherent, will be catalyzed when individuals are in conditions that conduce toward its expression.
What are the three components of Self-Determination Theory?
Component so self-determining theory include;
- Competence; Cognitive evaluation theory states that we have a need to perceive that were competent. That is, we have a need to perceive that we’re good at something.
- Autonomy: It also states that we have a need to perceive that we have autonomy. That is that we have choices and control over our decisions.
- Relatedness: It states that we have a need to perceive that we have relatedness, that is, that we are connected to others through positive relationships.
These are called the three basic needs in cognitive evaluation theory, competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Here are some points related to cognitive evaluation theory and these three psychological needs.
Psychological health requires satisfaction of all three needs competence, autonomy, and relatedness. One or two are not enough.
Here, Deci and Ryan say that they need to have these three needs met for people to be mentally healthy in their lives. These three needs are universal that are needed by people in all cultures.
Researchers have researched with people in many locations of the world, and so far, they have found that these three needs are human qualities and are not specific to particular cultures.
Meeting autonomy and competence needs leads to interest and intrinsic motivation. They contend that feelings of competence do not enhance intrinsic motivation unless accompanied by a sense of autonomy.
They also note that relatedness is important for intrinsic motivation, at least to the backdrop. In other words, relatedness is needed to be interested in and enjoy things in some aspect of the person’s life.
Difference Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation Examples
What is Intrinsic Motivation?
Intrinsic motivation is defined as engaging in a task for the rewards inherent in the task, such as interest and enjoyment.
When people’s needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness are met, they feel intrinsically motivated.
What Is Extrinsic Motivation?
Extrinsic motivation is defined as engaging in a task for the rewards outside of the task, such as grades or toys.
Some points to note about these definitions are that;
- They both involve rewards, and it is not inside the individual and outside of the individual.
- Deci and Ryan define intrinsic motivation to mean simply that someone enjoys what they’re doing. It could be the case that when they were first asked to engage in a task, they didn’t want to do it. But then, as they engaged in the task, they actually enjoyed it. In this case, it clearly did not come from within the person, but they enjoyed it, so they were intrinsically motivated while they did it.
- You could be high on both. Some people think that if you’re high on intrinsic that you must be low on extrinsic. But that’s not necessarily the case. You can think of it like this with both types of motivation on a separate continuum ranging from none to a lot.
Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Motivation Examples
- Tanya is high on intrinsic motivation because she loves to play tennis. She’s also extrinsically motivated to play because it helps her stay active and healthy.
- Jake is high on intrinsic motivation because he loves to play video games like angry birds. He’s low on extrinsic motivation because he doesn’t get any rewards separate from playing the games.
- Maria hates her job, but the fast-food restaurant, so she is low on intrinsic motivation. However, she needs a job to help her pay her car payments, so she’s motivated to go to work for the paycheck, so she is high on extrinsic motivation.
- Finally, Sam doesn’t enjoy playing video games, so he’s not intrinsically motivated to play them. And he would not be rewarded anyway if he did, so he’s not extrinsic Lee motivated, either, because he’s neither intrinsically nor extrinsically motivated. He doesn’t play video games.
Why is the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation important?
Well, in educational contexts, intrinsic motivation is important because it can lead to increased learning. Further extrinsic motivation can have negative effects on intrinsic motivation.
Organismic Integration Theory
Organismic Integration theory makes further distinctions within different types of motivation so that what we have is six different types of regulations.
- External Regulations
- Introjected Regulations
- Identified Regulations
- Integrated Regulations
- Intrinsic Regulations
These regulations vary in the amount of autonomy that the person has and the amount of internalization of the motivation.
Internalization of Motivation
Internalization is how much a person has taken in value. Simply it’s how much a person values the activity.
A person is fully autonomous, and the motivation is completely internalized in intrinsic regulation.
A person is not autonomous at all in non-regulation, and the motivation is not integrated at all.
Amotivation in Self Determination Theory
Amotivation is the complete absence of both intrinsic and extrinsic types of motivation. In amotivation, the person does not take any action, or the person is just going through the motions, and they don’t value the activity. They don’t feel competent, and they don’t expect any desired outcomes.
An example of such a person is a student who doesn’t know why she’s in college, majoring in chemistry when she already has her own clothing business and the skills needed to run it so that college won’t help her.
So, she drops out. She doesn’t value chemistry, feels confident in it, and doesn’t expect to do well enough to pass and get a degree.
Given this, it’s understandable that she would drop out.
External Regulations in Self Determination Theory
The next regulation is external regulation, which is part of extrinsic motivation.
Here, the motivation is to satisfy an external demand. In this way, it is pure behaviorism, such as when Skinner gave animals food for acting in certain ways.
External Regulations Example
An example might be a middle school student who does assignments to avoid confrontation with his parents or a student who takes premed courses to get into medical school because he wants to be a physician only to make a lot of money.
Introjected Regulation in Self Determination Theory
Another type of extrinsic motivation is introjected regulation.
Here, someone starts to internalize it by valuing the activity and taking in regulation but doesn’t accept it as his own. Instead, he does it to avoid guilt or anxiety or to attain ego enhancements, which means that he does it for the sake of his pride.
Introjected Regulation Example
An example would be a student who selected chemical engineering as her major to prove to herself that she could do it or a student who gets to class on time to avoid feeling like a bad person.
Identified Regulation in Self Determination Theory
The next regulation is identified regulation.
Here, the person values a goal, and the action is accepted or personally important. So it’s more internalized because it’s more highly valued than the prior regulations I described.
Identified Regulation Example;
An example might be a college student who takes an extra statistics course because she wants to understand better statistics and how it relates to her major or
High school student willingly does extra work in math because she believed it’s important to get into college.
Integrated Regulations in Self Determination Theory
The most integrated form of extrinsic motivation is integrated regulation.
Here, the person is identified with the importance of the behavior and integrates those identifications with other aspects of the self. It’s not intrinsic motivation where the person is so engrossed in the activity that he loses time. In fact, for identified regulation, he may not be interested in the activity.
Integrated Regulations Example
An example would be a music student who takes an extra course in composing, even though it’s not required because it’s consistent with her life goal of being an excellent performer and teacher.
Intrinsic Regulation in Self Determination Theory
Finally, we have intrinsic regulation here.
Here, the activity is enjoyable in itself, and the person is also interested in it, which is different from integrated regulation, where the person didn’t have to be interested in it.
Intrinsic regulation is really flow, which is peak intrinsic motivation, where a person is so engaged in an activity that she may lose track of time.
Intrinsic Regulation Example
An example would be a student who plays video games for long periods of time,
Summary of the Self-Determination Theory
so to summarize self-determination, the theory is comprised of at least two sub-theories.
The first is cognitive evaluation theory, which explains how our competence, autonomy, and relatedness needs lead to intrinsic motivation.
The second sub theory is organismic integration theory, which explains different types of regulations and how activities can come to be valued.
Self Determination Theory in Education
How to promote intrinsic motivation in educational settings.
The most obvious implication is that structures need to support students’ three psychological needs, their need for competence, autonomy, and relatedness.
Supporting these three needs can lead to intrinsic motivation, but they can also facilitate the internalization of values. They can move someone along the regulation continuum from an external regulation towards an integrated regulation.
When teachers facilitate internalization self-determination, researchers call this being autonomy-supportive autonomy. Supportive teachers meet students’ need for autonomy, but they also do other things.
Reeve and Jang (2006) did a study, and they found that the following autonomy supportive teacher behaviors were correlated with students’ perceptions of autonomy.
Autonomy supportive behaviors are;
- Creating time for students’ independent work.
- Giving students an opportunity to talk,
- Acknowledging signs of improvement and mastery.
- Encouraging student’s effort
- Offering progress, enabling hints when students seem stuck
- Being responsive to students, comments, and questions
- Acknowledging students’ experiences and perspectives.
As you can see, these autonomy-supportive behaviors support students’ need for autonomy, but some of them also support students’ needs for competence and relatedness.
These researchers also found that teachers’ following controlling behaviors were negatively correlated with students’ perceptions of autonomy.
- Monopolizing the learning materials,
- Providing solutions to problems before the students had time to work independently.
- Telling students answers without giving them an opportunity to formulate answers.
- Making directives
- Using controlling words such as should or have to and
- Using directed questions to control the flow of conversation.
Another topic that is directly related to the teaching implications for self-determination theory is using rewards and educational settings.
The question is, should teachers give rewards to students for their performance?
To answer this question, we need to understand how rewards affect intrinsic motivation.
Self-determination researchers have studied this, and they found that if rewards were perceived as controlling, students lose intrinsic motivation.
This is consistent with what we would expect based on self-determination theory because, in this case, the rewards would reduce a student’s perceived autonomy.
An example would be a teacher who says you will get to choose a prize if you finish all of your math problems. If a student perceived this as being controlling, then she’d be less intrinsically motivated.
However, if rewards are perceived as informational, students could experience intrinsic motivation because it would support their competence.
An example would be a teacher who gives praise after students do something well.
So this leads to the question Should instructors ever use rewards?
Well, instructors can use rewards; it’s an incentive, or Where does the last resort when nothing else works?
In this case, the teacher should start the rewards small. Don’t tell the student that you’re going to give him a trip to Disney World if he finishes his math homework; tell him that he’s going to get a sticker or a little more free time on the computer if the’s are things that he likes.
The idea here is to follow the basic principles that behaviorists have documented over the years.
An incentive is okay in this case because getting students involved in the activity may lead to new or increased skills.
This may increase their perceived competence and lead to some intrinsic motivation.
Another reason is that the mere exposure to an activity may increase a person’s liking for it. Such is the saying, Try it. You might like it.
A second time where it may be appropriate for instructors to use rewards is when they’re used as evaluation or feedback.
In this case, receiving a reward may signal success at an activity that meets their need for competence and leads to intrinsic motivation.
Criticisms of Student’s Autonomy in Self Determination Theory
- One is the teachers might lose control of the classroom. Self-determination Researchers acknowledge that students need structure such as rules and limits. They realized that limits to freedom must be given. They’re not advocating complete freedom for students.
- Another criticism of Self Determination Theory is that the teacher might lose time on the subject matter. Reeve explains how students of autonomy-supportive teachers can demonstrate higher achievement than controlling teachers. So it’s not necessarily the case that students will do more poorly when they have more autonomy.
- The third criticism is that control works self-determination. Researchers don’t deny this, but they remind us that control works in the short term but that extrinsic rewards can decrease intrinsic motivation over time. Interestingly, controlling teachers are actually rated higher by students and parents. Here is where it may be helpful to share some of this research related to these concepts with others
- Finally, teachers are pressured by the public in-state standards, which can lead to control methods. There’s no doubt that this statement is true, but good teachers must find a way to provide students with autonomy within the system.
MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation
Placing these strategies related to self-determination within the bigger picture of motivating strategies that can be used by instructors to motivate students.
The MUSIC model of academic motivation provides key motivation principles for instructors to consider when designing instruction.
A complete explanation of the music model is provided elsewhere, such as in Jones 2009, and the motivating students’ dot info website.
But here, I want to briefly explain the model and how the instructional strategies related to self-determination fit into the music model Instructional strategies.
The music model states that instructors need to ensure that;
- Students believe that they have some control over some aspect of their learning.
- Understand why the content is useful
- Believe that they can succeed if they put forth the effort,
- Are interested in what they’re supposed to be learning and
- Believe that the instructor cares about whether they meet the course objectives.
These five key principles can be remembered by using the acronym music.
The idea is related to self-determination theory is most related to the empowerment, success, and caring components of the music model because the three needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are directly related to these three instructional strategies.
The good thing about self-determination theory is that researchers have provided some concrete teacher behaviors that could be implemented to foster students’ autonomy and empowerment, such as those in the Reeve and Jang study.