Self-Determination Theory Essay Samples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Motivation, Government, Autonomy, Theory, Game, Self-Determination, Determination, Control

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/21

This theory majors on two main factors; human personality and motivation and bases its foundation on the extent to which a person makes certain decisions through motivation from the social context. It states that human have inbuilt characteristics that show commitment in their lives. They have basic psychological needs: relatedness, autonomy, and competence' which are the reasons for their motivation in life and are naturally evolved to be active and motivated to develop through integrative processes. (Deci 2011)


During the study on this theory, many instances of its implementation have been observed. (Ryan & Amer 2000) gave an example of the difference in the moods of workers during weekdays and weekends. The environment of work during the weekdays provides little relatedness and autonomy and hence keeps their spirits low compared to weekends where they have a lot of physical and psychological strength. They also posited that in organization and institutions where the managers support autonomy, the workers are more productive and contented than those working in organizations that are more controlling. Also, organizations with social practices that don't encourage autonomy and relatedness have the same results (Ryan et al., 2006).
Self-Determination Theory was developed to distinguish between controlled and autonomous motivation after advance research brought opinion conflicts over intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The three aspects of the Self-Determination Theory include autonomy, competence and lastly relatedness. Autonomy is the urge in an individual to be self-supportive and independent on most aspects. Competence is the urge to have control over the outcomes of our decisions and actions. Lastly, relatedness is the urge to be connected and associated with other people. People prove to be more productive when they do activities that they are interested in contrary to those that they are being controlled to do. (Gagné 2004)


The effects of computer gaming have been observed, looked into and well analyzed. Adverse effects such as increased aggressiveness, lowering of psychology and physical well-being and positive such as increased learning and power over one's environment have been noted. These inferences have postulated the need for research on computer gaming at large especially on the effects of the mind. An initial study was conducted when researchers used a game Mario 64, which focused more on competencies and a bit of autonomy. Eighty-nine undergraduates took part in the game that involved numerous escaping dangers and obstacles to avoid and several goals to achieve. They conducted a series of post-play assessments for the game's autonomy, competencies and reasoning processes after the computer game.
For instance they were given zero to five scale rating on the difficulty of the game considering the challenges they were exposed to, zero to five scale assessment of the degree to which the players felt free during the gaming processes and among others, a scale to grade their level of immersion into the game by rating the concentration. They tabulated the results from the scaling, and future progresses were taken into note. The results showed that the in-game competences and autonomy were characterized by an increase in the presence feeling and better reasoning abilities. Further experiences in the gaming showed improvement in self-esteem and moods. Intuitive controls improved the thinking of the players, and they observed that competences and autonomy would predict the motivation of the 'players' in the game's enjoyment and presence.
In a second assessment, players were assigned to play a game that they did not all in particular preferred, an example of a controlled environment. Results after the experiment showed that those who have a self-motivation to continue with the game portrayed better autonomy and competencies than the non-continuers. The examination of the pre and post play, results showed differences in the moods, reasoning capacity, and self-esteem with the 'continuers' giving better results. These players had a self-determination originating from their interest in playing the games and hence giving better results. This experiment was limited to its study on a single and relatively linear aspect; however, it was still useful in proving the STD theory.


Self-Determination Theory has well illustrated in the gaming experiment and its adverse applications cannot be expounded by a single assessment article. The human personality and motivation works inversely with pressure or control. Where a lot of power is used over the individuals, the outcome is low output. As in the gaming experiment, the players that had the motivation and interest to play on showed better results than those that were not interested. The latter took the assignment as a controlled environment.
STD focuses on the different types of motivation; intrinsic and extrinsic. The experiment mainly dealt with intrinsic and that is why it was single linear. When it comes to extrinsic, the social environment will determine the motivation of individuals and a great field for experimentation would be a working environment. In such a case, for example, managerial practices that show a lot of control over the workers would not encourage the latter to do their best hence less output. Self-determination theory is a reference point for effective leadership whatever case as it provides the principles of optimum productivity.


Deci Edward L. and Richard M. Ryan. "Self-determination theory." Handbook of theories of social psychology 1 (2011): 416-433.
Gagné, M. and Deci, E. L. (2005), Self-determination theory and work motivation. J. Organiz. Behav., 26: 331–362. doi: 10.1002/job.322
Ryan, Richard M., C. Scott Rigby and Andrew Przybylski. (2006) "The motivational pull of video games: A self-determination theory approach." Motivation and emotion. 30.4 344-360.
Ryan RM, Deci EL, and Amer. Psychol (2000)"Self-Determination Theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being," (. 55[1]: 68-78)

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