Intrinsic motivation: The inherent tendency to be active

Book chapter


Deci, Edward L.. (2016) Intrinsic motivation: The inherent tendency to be active. In In R. J. Sternberg, S. Fiske and D. J. Foss (Ed.). Scientists making a difference: One hundred eminent behavioral and brain scientists talk about their most important contributions pp. 288 - 292 Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316422250.063
AuthorsDeci, Edward L.
EditorsR. J. Sternberg, S. Fiske and D. J. Foss
Abstract

Traditionally, when psychologists and laypeople alike have talked about motivation, they have usually referred to the amount of motivation someone has (or doesn't have). “How can I get my child more motivated to do schoolwork?” or “How can I get my employees more motivated to do their jobs?” someone might ask. The implication, of course, is that more motivation would make the child do more schoolwork and make the employees work harder at their jobs. It makes sense that if these individuals have more motivation, the child would do more schoolwork and the employees would do more work. However, having more motivation would not necessarily lead them to do high-quality work. When I think about motivated behavior, I am generally interested in seeing high-quality behavior rather than just a large quantity of behavior. Take learning, for example: One person who is highly motivated to learn might spend time memorizing facts, whereas another who is highly motivated might spend time learning concepts and themes that tie facts together. In general, I find the second type of learning preferable, but if all you know is the amount of motivation a person has for learning, you would not be able to predict whether the learning would be the lower-quality learning (viz., memorization) or the higher-quality learning (viz., conceptual understanding). When I was a graduate student, it occurred to me that predicting the quality of learning (or playing basketball, or managing a company, or solving problems) would require differentiating the concept of motivation into types of motivation rather than just focusing on the amount of motivation. In other words, I thought that some types of motivation might lead to higher-quality behavior than other types. I also thought that perhaps the high-quality behavior would be accompanied by greater well-being. At about that time I became captivated by the concepts of intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation, which very few people were writing about back then. I knew immediately that that was what I wanted to research. The concept of intrinsic motivation, which means doing an activity because it is interesting and enjoyable, resonated deeply within me, and when I looked at young children playing, I knew I was watching a beautiful example of intrinsic motivation.

Page range288 - 292
Year2016
Book titleScientists making a difference: One hundred eminent behavioral and brain scientists talk about their most important contributions
PublisherCambridge University Press
Place of publicationUnited States of America
ISBN9781107127135
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316422250.063
Research GroupInstitute for Positive Psychology and Education
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Deci, Edward L. and Ryan, Richard Michael. (2008) Hedonia, eudaimonia, and well-being: An introduction. Journal of Happiness Studies. 9(1), pp. 1 - 11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-006-9018-1
Living well: A self-determination theory perspective on eudaimonia
Ryan, Richard Michael, Huta, Veronika and Deci, Edward L.. (2008) Living well: A self-determination theory perspective on eudaimonia. Journal of Happiness Studies. 9(1), pp. 139 - 170. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-006-9023-4
Facilitating health behaviour change and its maintenance: Interventions based on Self-Determination Theory
Ryan, Richard Michael, Patrick, Heather, Deci, Edward L. and Williams, Geoffrey C.. (2008) Facilitating health behaviour change and its maintenance: Interventions based on Self-Determination Theory. European Psychologist. 10, pp. 2 - 5.
A self-determination theory approach to psychotherapy :The motivational basis for effective change
Ryan, Richard and Deci, Edward. (2008) A self-determination theory approach to psychotherapy :The motivational basis for effective change. Canadian Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0012753
Beyond talk: Creating autonomous motivation through self-determination theory
Stone, D. N., Deci, Edward and Ryan, Richard. (2008) Beyond talk: Creating autonomous motivation through self-determination theory. Journal of General Management. 34(3), pp. 75 - 91.
Self-determination theory and the explanatory role of psychological needs in human well-being
Deci, Edward L., Ryan, Richard Michael and Vansteenkiste, Maurizio. (2008) Self-determination theory and the explanatory role of psychological needs in human well-being. In In L. Bruni and F. Comim (Ed.). Capabilities and happiness pp. 187 - 223 Oxford University Press.
From ego depletion to vitality: Theory and findings concerning the facilitation of energy available to the self
Ryan, Richard Michael and Deci, Edward L.. (2008) From ego depletion to vitality: Theory and findings concerning the facilitation of energy available to the self. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. 2(2), pp. 702 - 717. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2008.00098.x
The Significance of Autonomy and Autonomy Support in Psychological Development and Psychopathology
Ryan, Richard, Deci, Edward, Grolnick, Wendy and Laguardia, Jennifer G.. (2006) The Significance of Autonomy and Autonomy Support in Psychological Development and Psychopathology. In Developmental Psychopathalogy pp. 795 - 849 John Wiley & Sons. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470939383.ch20
Testing a self-determination theory intervention for motivating tobacco cessation: Supporting autonomy and competence in a clinical trial
Williams, Geoffrey C., McGregor, Holly, Sharp, Daryl, Lévesque, Chantal S., Kouides, Ruth W., Ryan, Richard and Deci, Edward. (2006) Testing a self-determination theory intervention for motivating tobacco cessation: Supporting autonomy and competence in a clinical trial. Health Psychology. 25(1), pp. 91 - 101. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-6133.25.1.91
Self-regulation and the problem of human autonomy: Does psychology need choice, self-determination, and will?
Ryan, Richard and Deci, Edward. (2006) Self-regulation and the problem of human autonomy: Does psychology need choice, self-determination, and will? Journal of Personality. 74(6), pp. 1557 - 1585. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2006.00420.x
Choice and ego-depletion: The moderating role of autonomy
Moller, Arien C., Deci, Edward and Ryan, Richard. (2006) Choice and ego-depletion: The moderating role of autonomy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 32(8), pp. 1024 - 1036. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167206288008
A self-determination multiple risk intervention trial to improve smokers' health
Williams, Geoffrey C., McGregor, Holly, Sharp, Daryl, Kouides, Ruth W., Lévesque, Chantal S., Ryan, Richard and Deci, Edward. (2006) A self-determination multiple risk intervention trial to improve smokers' health. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 21(12), pp. 1288 - 1294. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00621.x
Validation of the "important other" climate questionnaire: Assessing autonomy support for health-related change
Williams, Geoffrey C., Lynch, Martin F., McGregor, Holly, Ryan, Richard, Sharp, Daryl and Deci, Edward. (2006) Validation of the "important other" climate questionnaire: Assessing autonomy support for health-related change. Families, Systems, and Health. 24(2), pp. 179 - 194. https://doi.org/10.1037/1091-7527.24.2.179
The antecedents and consequences of autonomous self-regulation for college: A self-determination theory perspective on socialization
Niemiec, C. P., Lynch, Martin F., Vansteenkiste, Maarten, Bernstein, J H., Deci, Edward and Ryan, Richard. (2006) The antecedents and consequences of autonomous self-regulation for college: A self-determination theory perspective on socialization. Journal of Adolescence. 29(5), pp. 761 - 775. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2005.11.009
Intrinsic versus extrinsic goal contents in self-determination theory: Another look at the quality of academic motivation
Vansteenkiste, Maarten, Lens, Willy and Deci, Edward. (2006) Intrinsic versus extrinsic goal contents in self-determination theory: Another look at the quality of academic motivation. Educational Psychologist. 41(1), pp. 19 - 31. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep4101_4
On the benefits of giving as well as receiving autonomy support: Mutuality in close friendships
Deci, Edward, La Guardia, J. G., Moller, Arien C., Scheiner, Marc J. and Ryan, Richard. (2006) On the benefits of giving as well as receiving autonomy support: Mutuality in close friendships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 32(3), pp. 313 - 327. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167205282148
Self-determination theory and public policy: Improving the quality of consumer decisions without using coercion
Moller, Arien C., Ryan, Richard and Deci, Edward. (2006) Self-determination theory and public policy: Improving the quality of consumer decisions without using coercion. Journal of Public Policy and Marketing. 25(1), pp. 104 - 116. https://doi.org/10.1509/jppm.25.1.104