How Self-Determination Theory Influences Motivation?

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What makes you a self-determined person? Is your motivation also driven by the fact that you are capable of making your own decisions? Well, if that’s the case, you might want to learn more about self-determination because self-determination is more of motivation!

Self-determination theory in psychology is identified as a basic psychological need that is based on autonomy, competence, and relatedness. If you wish to become more self-determined in life, read this blog to understand the principles of self-determination based on examples.  Well, let’s begin with the basics first…

What is Self-Determination Theory in Psychology?

Self-determination increases when an individual is able to make choices and manage their life independently. The qualities of self-determination are an individual who is in great control, intrinsically motivated, and aims higher toward goals and change.

Self-determination theory in psychology is based on three important psychological needs which are autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Intrinsic motivation plays an important part in this theory because this theory is directly related to psychological health and promoting self-determination is one of the best practices to enhance motivation. Self-determination theory explains how our motivation is influenced. If we adjoin the three important psychological needs of self-determination, we can easily understand self-determination theory as…

Self-determination theory is all about enhancing self-determination by fulfilling autonomy, competence, and relatedness. 

Fact-check: Self-determination was first discussed by psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan in a book named “Self-determination and Intrinsic Motivation in Human Behavior” in 1985 to gain fulfillment and the need to grow in life.

Main Principles of Self-Determination Theory

According to psychology, three core needs of self-determination are:


Autonomy is a need to feel in control related to behaviors and goals. The sense of autonomy can help reach the right direction and make people more self-determined.


When people excel in the field of learning different skills and doing tasks, they put themselves on the track of success and they are likely to achieve goals within the timeline.


When people work on enhancing their sense of belonging, they relate with others’ feelings, become empaths, and learn to maintain a secure attachment with people.

How Our Motivation Is Driven By Self-Determination?

Here, the main part of our content comes in…it is really important to understand how our motivation is driven by self-determination theory in psychology because that does not happen automatically neither it is adapted. It is a continual ingredient that people require for growth. The inventors stated that we are highly influenced by our social environment.

When we interact with new people or learn from a relationship, we start fostering personal growth and development. Herein, the three core needs of self-determination are influenced by two types of motivation:

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation comes into action when our behaviors are motivated by external factors. This type of motivation generally comes from outside for example rules, approval, society, and other sources. Extrinsic motivation comes under classical conditioning and shaped operant. For example, some people are highly motivated by punishments or rewards. In such a way, we can encourage positive behaviors and discourage negative behaviors.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation comes into action when our behaviors are based on our internal motives or values which are inherently satisfying. Psychologically, intrinsic motivation pushes us to learn new things and skills or grow personally. This type of motivation is required for cognitive psychology and positive focus.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Sources of Motivation

Intrinsic Sources of Motivation
Extrinsic Sources of Motivation

Motivation is influenced by internal factors

Motivation is influenced by external factors

Personal ethics, values, and beliefs are the main motivators.

Materialistic things like rewards, money, or trophies are the main motivators.

The inner self influences to take an action or move towards reaching the goal.

External factors (like weight loss, getting a job) influence us to take action towards reaching the goal.

Here are some examples of self-determination based on extrinsic and intrinsic motivation:

Learning new skills
Entering a competition to win something
Donating some amount of money to help needy people
Keeping an eye on promotion to reach goals
Taking action to correct your mistakes

Talking about extrinsic motivation, it is totally external. for example, when we compete to win a trophy or prize, we take the help of a mentor to help us reach our goals. In order to achieve our goals, they punish us or reward us to maintain the balance of motivation. We perform tasks we dislike to earn that goal on our own. This is one of the common examples of extrinsic motivation.

Since intrinsic motivation is internal, effective, and productive as compared to extrinsic motivation. we all want to achieve higher and earn money in life. In order to do so, we keep on motivating ourselves to be better, learn new things, and adapt skills from our mentors. For example, when we see our co-workers achieving better,

we motivate ourselves to be the best. It’s a fact that when we are driven by personal growth and acquiring new skills, we are more likely to deep dive. We just don’t only work hard but we try to connect with new innovative ideas that help us reach our goals.

Traits of Self-Determined People

People who are self-determined are in their control, self-motivated, and responsible. Here are some common traits of self-determined people that we should always eye on:

1. Sense of control

People who are self-determined have a sense of control which influences positive actions and behaviors. When self-determined are confronted with obstacles, they are keen at making good choices and doing hard work to overcome them.

2. Self-motivation

People who are self-determined are self-motivated and they do not require external motivations to take action.

3. Goal-oriented

Self-determined people are highly goal-oriented and they are always engaged in taking actions which makes their goal accomplished.

4. Responsible

Self-determined people do not blame people for their failures, instead learn from their mistakes, and do hard work to reach their goals.

5. Sense of satisfaction

Self-determined people always feel a sense of satisfaction because they are totally aware of their emotions and feelings.

Difference between self-determined and non-self-determined people

Self-Determined People/th>
Non-Self-Determined People

Persists sense of control

No sense of control

Self-motivated behaviors (intrinsic)

Seeks motivation from extrinsic factors

Goal-oriented and interested in learning

Learns after making mistakes

Take responsibility for their actions

Driven by requirements

How to Improve Self-Determination In Different Settings?

If you also enhance self-determination, you might need to foster these qualities by taking the help of strategies like 

Active participation: When we feel listened to or heard, we encourage autonomy that not only enhances our motivation but also makes us more self-determined. It allows us to explore leadership and actively participate in activities that help us reach our goals. 

Finding intrinsic motivation: When teachers, mentors, or leaders encourage autonomy in the surrounding environment, we feel supported and we start taking initiatives in an innovative manner. This learning style encourages and implements better solutions to major problems. 

Taking great responsibilities: When someone provides real-time and prompt feedback, we naturally promote a sense of competence which not only provides insight but also prepares us to take greater responsibilities and act respectively. 

Offering encouragement and support to people: When we offer our extended support or encouragement to people, it not only makes them self-determined but also increases our self-efficacy, confidence, and resilience power. 

Enhancing mental strength or toughness: We all are aware that when we start functioning detrimentally, we start growing as a person, we start enhancing our mental strengths and toughness which makes our goals achievable. 

Seeking positive relationships: One of the best advantages of becoming self-determined is that we start valuing and respecting positive relationships in our life. We know when to keep it and when to move on. 

Improving your feelings of competence: Self-determined people do not compete with others, but they compete with themselves. They work hard against their inner demons and put themselves on the road of motivation. 

I hope this blog helps you understand the basics of self-determination theory and how to improve self-determination. For more such content, connect with us on all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

The post How Self-Determination Theory Influences Motivation? appeared first on Calm Sage – Your Guide to Mental and Emotional Well-being.

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