A self-determination theory approach to understanding stress incursion and responses

Netta Weinstein, Richard M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

196 Scopus citations


Given the high costs of stress for both mental and physical health, understanding of how stress is incurred and how it is coped with has both theoretical and clinical significance. Self-determination theory (SDT), a broad framework for understanding motivation and personality, speaks to many issues concerning stress-related phenomena. Research based on SDT suggests that both less stress incursion and better coping with demanding events are associated with greater autonomous functioning, higher mindfulness, more interest-taking in internal events, and lifestyles focused on pursuing intrinsic over extrinsic goals, among other factors. These topics are discussed within the growing body of empirical research stemming from SDT and linkages are drawn with the larger literature on stress and coping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-17
Number of pages14
JournalStress and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • coping
  • health
  • needs
  • self-determination theory
  • stress
  • well-being


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