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Self-determination theory

I'm a big fan of Self-Determination Theory (SDT).  SDT is a general theory of motivation and personality that has evolved over the past three decades.  SDT suggests that humans, like plants or other animals, intrinsically 'strive' for need satisfaction & flourishing.  Social context and personal choices can support or thwart this need striving with major effects for health and wellbeing.

For the superb Self-Determination Theory website at Rochester University, click here.  This contains a great wealth of helpful information including free downloadable PDF's of many fascinating research articles.  When I counted last year there were 34 papers on wellbeing, covering happiness, needs, motivation, goals, and life course changes.  There were 79 papers on education at both university and school levels.  There were 36 papers (and books) on health care including research on SDT's relevance to smoking, alcohol & drug problems, diet, exercise, and diabetes.  Freely downloadable treatment questionnaires are also provided. There were many other papers on at least 15 further subject areas including friendship, parenting, couples, psychotherapy, sport, organizations, and political/ecological action. 

To look at a talk I gave on SDT at a national conference on Student Health last year, click here.  I've used a number of these slides as handouts for clients.  See below (and on this website's Good Knowledge "Wellbeing, time management & self-determination" page):

Psychological needs & wellbeing 1, Psychological needs & wellbeing 2 (SDT) - I use this handout a lot at the moment (2008) to introduce discussions on wellbeing and the importance of responding to our key basic psychological needs for Autonomy, Competence & Relatedness.  Try printing them out as a two-slides-to-a-page Powerpoint handout. 

Goals & wellbeing 1, Goals & wellbeing 2 (SDT) - building on a discussion of needs (see above), this SDT approach to goals looks particularly at how well pursuing different types of goals leads (or doesn't lead) to key need satisfaction.  Try printing them out as a two-slides-to-a-page Powerpoint handout. 

Motivation, effectiveness & wellbeing 1, Motivation, effectiveness & wellbeing 2 (SDT) - these two handouts build on the Needs and Goals SDT handouts above.  Good for discussion of autonomous and controlled motivations.  Try printing them out as a two-slides-to-a-page Powerpoint handout. 

Motivation questions (SDT) - autonomous, rather than controlled, motivations tend to lead better outcomes (see Motivation, effectiveness & wellbeing handouts above).  These four questions can be helpful in teasing out the mixed motivations that we often bring to goal decisions.  Can be very helpful in looking at whether goals we choose are likely to be 'healthy' or not.

Goals, motivations & wellbeing (SDT) - puts the SDT goal and motivation ideas (see above) onto a useful grid when printed as a single Powerpoint slide. 

Subjective vitality scale & background (SDT) - clicking on this vitality scale links through to a download from the great Self-Determination Theory (SDT) website with it's hundreds of article PDF's and other useful material.

For more on this subject, see the linked post "Handouts & questionnaires for self-determination theory (SDT), an upgrade".

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