Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health

Edward L. Deci, Richard M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3360 Scopus citations


Self-determination theory (SDT) is an empirically based theory of human motivation, development, and wellness. The theory focuses on types, rather than just amount, of motivation, paying particular attention to autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and amotivation as predictors of performance, rela-tional, and well-being outcomes. It also addresses the social conditions that enhance versus diminish these types of motivation, proposing and finding that the degrees to which basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are supported versus thwarted affect both the type and strength of motivation. SDT also examines people's life goals or aspirations, showing differential relations of intrinsic versus extrinsic life goals to performance and psychological health. In this introduction we also briefly discuss recent developments within SDT concerning mindfulness and vitality, and highlight the applicability of SDT within applied domains, including work, relationships, parenting, education, virtual environments, sport, sustainability, health care, and psychotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-185
Number of pages4
JournalCanadian Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Autonomous motivation
  • Personality development
  • Self-determination theory
  • Wellness


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