Self-Determination Theory

Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness

Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci

HardcoverPaperbacke-bookprint + e-book
February 14, 2017
ISBN 9781462528769
Price: $135.00
756 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
November 6, 2018
ISBN 9781462538966
Price: $49.00
756 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
January 20, 2017
ePub and PDF ?
Price: $49.00
756 Pages
print + e-book
Paperback + e-Book (ePub and PDF) ?
Price: $53.90
756 Pages

Self-determination theory (SDT) provides a framework for understanding the factors that promote motivation and healthy psychological and behavioral functioning. In this authoritative work, the codevelopers of the theory comprehensively examine SDT's conceptual underpinnings (including its six mini-theories), empirical evidence base, and practical applications across the lifespan. The volume synthesizes a vast body of research on how supporting—or thwarting—people's basic needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy affects their development and well-being. Chapters cover implications for practice and policy in education, health care, psychotherapy, sport, and the workplace.

Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness is [the authors’] magnum opus—a definitive exposition of autonomy, competence, and relatedness as basic psychological needs….Transcending social psychology, self-determination theory (SDT) has become a multidisciplinary phenomenon with implications for health sciences, sociology, social work, environmental studies, and philosophy of education.”

Theory and Research in Education

“For over 30 years, Richard Ryan and Edward Deci have worked together to expand theory and research on intrinsic motivation. Their new book, Self-Determination Theory…is an impressive synthesis of their work to date.”


“This valuable volume presents a synthesis of four decades of systematic work within one of the most comprehensive, profound research programs on human motivation in the history of psychology. It is a true milestone in motivational research, as rich in conceptual insights as it is in exciting findings. The book offers a formidable set of answers as to why people do what they do, and with what consequences. An assured and instant classic!”

—Arie W. Kruglanski, PhD, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park

“This book is a tour-de-force exposition of the motivational nutrients needed for optimal human growth and well-being. It is global in scope, while also replete with applications to specific contexts. SDT and its mini-theories are characterized by astonishing scholarly vitality and depth of thought, combined with unrivaled relevance for everyday life at all levels of society. Taken as a whole, the advances summarized in this volume have transformed what we know about human behavior and development.”

—Carol D. Ryff, PhD, Hilldale Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Madison

“A masterful, comprehensive explication of the tenets of SDT. The authors demonstrate a keen sense of history and respect for their intellectual ancestors, stepping only lightly on a few theoretical toes. The theoretical claims that comprise SDT are coherently documented by a plethora of well-crafted and ingenious laboratory and real-world research studies. A major contribution is the compelling practical application of the theory to numerous life domains, including classroom teaching, the workplace, psychotherapy, and others. There is great wisdom in these applications. The breadth of topics will make this volume attractive to researchers, clinicians, educators, and sports and organizational psychologists.”

—Susan Harter, PhD, John Evans Professor of Psychology (Emerita), University of Denver

“Ryan and Deci are among the most brilliant psychologists of our time, and SDT has been one of the most influential theories in the field of motivation for the past 30 years. In this book, Ryan and Deci provide an in-depth review of research on SDT, which provides overwhelming support for their theory in a number of contexts, activities, and cultures. This book is a 'must read.' I recommend it for all motivational scientists and graduate students alike. Self-Determination Theory will leave its mark for years to come and will become a classic in the field.”

—Robert J. Vallerand, PhD, Canada Research Chair on Motivational Processes and Optimal Functioning and Professor of Social Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal

“This much-anticipated volume does not disappoint! Ryan and Deci explain SDT with a richness and clarity that will enable readers at all levels to understand and use this important and increasingly influential theory. The organization is excellent—the reader is walked through the philosophical and historical foundations, presented with the key mini-theories that make up SDT, and then, equipped with the basics, introduced to the myriad applications of the theory for increasing human well-being. This book is essential reading for educational psychologists and those training for careers in education as it provides crucial information about setting up environments to maximize student motivation, learning, and adjustment. Bravo to the authors for this invaluable, beautifully written resource that will be in the hands of all of my undergraduate and graduate students.”

—Wendy S. Grolnick, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Director of Clinical Training, Clark University

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

1. Self-Determination Theory: An Introduction and Overview

II. Philosophical and Historical Considerations

2. Organismic Principles: Historical Perspectives on Development and Integration in Living Entities

3. Human Autonomy: Philosophical Perspectives and the Phenomenology of Self

4. Psychological Needs: Varied Concepts and a Preliminary Description of Self-Determination Theory’s Approach

5. A Brief History of Intrinsic Motivation

III. The Six Mini-Theories of Self-Determination Theory

6. Cognitive Evaluation Theory, Part I: The Effects of Rewards, Feedback, and Other External Events on Intrinsic Motivation

7. Cognitive Evaluation Theory, Part II: Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Processes Affecting Intrinsic Motivation

8. Organismic Integration Theory: Internalization and the Differentiation of Extrinsic Motivation

9. Causality Orientations Theory: Individual Differences in, and Priming of, Motivational Orientations

10. Basic Psychological Needs Theory: Satisfaction and Frustration of Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness in Relation to Psychological Wellness and Full Functioning

11. Goal Contents Theory: Aspirations, Life Goals, and Their Varied Consequences

12. Relationships Motivation Theory: The Self in Close Relationships

IV. Motivation and Human Development in Families, Schools, and Societies

13. Parenting and the Facilitation of Autonomy and Well-Being in Development

14. Schools as Contexts for Learning and Social Development

15. Identity Development, Self-Esteem, and Authenticity

16. Development, Basic Psychological Needs, and Psychopathology

V. The Application and Practice of Self-Determination Theory in Multiple Domains

17. Psychotherapy and Behavior Change: Creating Facilitating Environments

18. Health Care and Patient Need Satisfaction: Supporting Maintained Health Behavior Change

19. Sport, Physical Activity, and Physical Education

20. Motivation and Need Satisfaction in Video Games and Virtual Environments

21. Work and Organizations: Promoting Wellness and Productivity

VI. Basic Psychological Needs in Pervasive Social Contexts

22. Pervasive Social Influences, Part I: Cultural Contexts

23. Pervasive Social Influences, Part II: Economic and Political Systems

24. On Basic Needs and Human Natures: Altruism, Aggression, and the Bright and Dark Sides of Human Motivation

A Very Brief Epilogue


Author Index

Subject Index

About the Authors

Richard M. Ryan, PhD, is Research Professor at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at Australian Catholic University, and Professor of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology at the University of Rochester. Dr. Ryan is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, the American Educational Research Association, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. He received distinguished career awards from the International Society for Self and Identity and the International Network on Personal Meaning, as well as a Shavelson Distinguished Researcher Award, presented by the International Global SELF Research Centre, among other honors. An honorary member of the German Psychological Society and the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Thessaly in Greece, he is also a recipient of a James McKeen Cattell Fund Fellowship and a Leverhulme Fellowship. Dr. Ryan has also been a visiting professor at the National Institute of Education in Singapore, the University of Bath in England, and the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, Germany.

Edward L. Deci, PhD, is the Helen F. and Fred H. Gowen Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Rochester, with secondary appointments at the University College of Southeast Norway and Australian Catholic University. Dr. Deci is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, among other associations. His numerous honors include a distinguished scholar award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, a lifetime achievement award from the International Society for Self and Identity, and a distinguished scientific contribution award from the Positive Psychology Network. He was named honorary president of the Canadian Psychological Association and is a recipient of a James McKeen Cattell Fund Fellowship.


Researchers and students in social and personality psychology; also of strong interest to developmental, clinical, educational, health, and organizational psychologists.

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in graduate-level courses.