Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being

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Human beings can be proactive and engaged or, alternatively, passive and alienated, largely as a function of the social conditions in which they develop and function. Accordingly, research guided by self-determination theory has focused on the social-contextual conditions that facilitate versus forestall the natural processes of self-motivation and healthy psychological development. Specifically, factors have been examined that enhance versus undermine intrinsic motivation, self-regulation, and well-being. The findings have led to the postulate of three innate psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness—which, when satisfied, yield enhanced self-motivation and mental health and, when thwarted, lead to diminished motivation and well-being. Also considered is the significance of these psychological needs and processes within domains such as health care, education, work, sport, religion, and psychotherapy.

American Psychologist

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