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A key proposition of self-determination theory (SDT) is that human beings have deeply evolved psychological needs to be competent, autonomous, and related to others. In contexts where these needs are satisfied, people evidence more volitional, high-quality motivation and greater well-being. Conversely, when these needs are thwarted, people display diminished motivation and more symptoms of ill-being. This article addresses how the SDT concept of basic psychological needs differs from needs concepts in other psychological and management theories; provides empirical evidence for the validity of our approach; relates need satisfaction to autonomous motivation (i.e., intrinsic motivation and fully internalized extrinsic motivation) and controlled motivation (i.e., external and introjected forms of extrinsic motivation); explains how need satisfaction versus thwarting affects engagement and effective performance; examines how social environments, personality characteristics, and people’s long-term goals affect satisfaction versus thwarting of their basic psychological needs; and then discusses the relevance of these issues for management.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Book Chapter

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ERA Access

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