Deci's Self Determination Theory

I am facilitating a session on " Character Education" the group is using Deci’s work as a foundation and is unfamiliar with PCT. I’m wondering what others who know PCT think about Deci’s work.


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I am not familiar with Deci’s Work.

This is Deci and Ryan?

“Key studies that led to emergence of SDT included research on intrinsic motivation.[5] Intrinsic motivation refers to initiating an activity for its own sake because it is interesting and satisfying in itself, as opposed to doing an activity to obtain an external goal (extrinsic motivation). Different types of motivations have been described based on the degree they have been internalized.”

"According to Deci and Ryan, the three psychological needs motivate the self to initiate behavior and specify nutriments that are essential for psychological health and well-being of an individual. These needs are said to be universal, innate and psychological and include the need for competence, autonomy, and relatedness.[1]

They seem nice. I remember I studied about them in a social psychology class. I didn’t like the intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation distinction, I though all of the goals are “inside”, and just because you may be doing something for money (for example), doesn’t mean it’s externally motivated. But I don’t know too much about the research behind this.

I agree to me motivation is always internal. In your example if you didn’t “eant” the money you wouldn’t do what the other person desired.

I am also curios what PCTers think of their 3 goals. Autonomy, Connection, and Copetence.


As I said earlier, I am not familiar with Deci (and Ryan’s) work. That said, I do see links to the concepts of Autonomy, Competence and Connection. The notion of people as “living control systems” ties to Autonomy and to the notion of not trying to control other people’s behavior. Competence is a judgment we make about others when they succeed in doing what we want and, again, that entails the exercise of control. What came to mind with “Connection” is what Bill Powers termed “The Feedback Function,” the connections between your actions and their effects on the Input Quantity. In short, I believe I could use those three concepts as ways of introducing important aspects of PCT.

Character Education is an interesting and inportant topic, but I would like to know how a psychological theory like SDT would help an educator to do Character Education??


We are reading a book - Breaking Into the Heart of Character The basic premise is that people will “act with character” if they are provided an environment in which they can -

autonomy- determine their own goals,

competence - have opportunities to excel at what they are good at,

connectedness- feel connected to others at the school.

Like others one of my main concerns is centered around the idea that “external control” exists.