The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in personality

Edward L. Deci, Richard M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2616 Scopus citations


This paper describes the development and validation of a general causality orientations scale. Causality orientations are conceptualized as relatively enduring aspects of people that characterize the source of initiation and regulation, and thus the degree of self-determination, of their behavior. Three orientations-autonomy, control, and impersonal-are measured by the three subscales of the instrument. Individuals are given a score on each orientation, thus allowing the use of the theoretically appropriate subscale (or, in some cases, a combination of subscales) to predict affects, cognitions, and behaviors. The scale was shown to have internal consistency and temporal stability. The orientations were shown to fit appropriately into a nomological network of constructs and to relate to various behaviors that were hypothesized to be theoretically relevant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-134
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1985

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Science Foundation research Grant BNS-8018628. We thank John Simonson, Nancy Spiegel, Rob Driver, and the other members of the Human Motivation Program at the University of Rochester who have participated in the development and validation of this scale. Address reprint requests to either author, Human Motivation Program, Department of Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627. Copies of the scale reported here may be obtained upon request from either author.


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