Annotated Links

7 Tips for Giving Effective Praise Gretchen Rubin distills much of the research on praise to these 7 tips including be specific, be sincere, and more, in this article from Psych Central.

Autonomy Fosters Passion Among Kids Parents take heed: children and young adults are more likely to pursue sports, music or other pastimes when given an opportunity to nurture their own passion. According to a three-part study led by Geneviève Mageau, a psychology professor at the Université de Montréal, parental control can predict whether a child develops a harmonious or obsessive passion for a hobby according to this summary from ScienceDaily, February 4, 2010.

Criticizing (Common Criticisms of) Praise Psychology Alfie Kohn weighs in on the issue in this blog from Psychology Today, February 2012. See also Raul Raeburn's response in Why It’s a Bad Idea to Praise Children

Dogs Like Treats, But Here’s What Really Gets Their Tails Wagging It’s autonomy and competence, according to a study published in Animal Cognition and summarized here for The Huffington Post. According to the researchers, The experimental animals in our study were excited not only by the expectation of a reward, but also about realizing that they themselves could control their access to the reward. Posted June 16, 2014.

Helping Children to Succeed Children may perform better in school and feel more confident about themselves if they are told that failure is a normal part of learning, rather than being pressured to succeed at all costs according to research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology and summarized here in Medical News Today, March 13, 2012.

What Every Parent Needs to Know About Praise How to shift your dialogue from judging to loving by Laura Markham for Psychology Today,July 31, 2013.

How Teachers Can Promote Students’ Autonomy During Instruction: Lessons from a Decade of Research Johnmarshall Reeve, University of Iowa, presented this talk at the 2005 Conference of the Iowa Educational Research and Evaluation Association, applying self-determination theory to increasing student motivation and engagement in the classroom (opens in pdf format).

It's All About Autonomy: Consumers React Negatively When Prompted to Think About Money From the webpage: Whether they are aware of it or not, consumers dislike being reminded of money -- so much that they will rebel against authority figures, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research and summarized here in ScienceDaily, September 15, 2011.

Losing is Good for You Ashley Marryman summarizes the research on praise and rewards and suggests that the best thing we can give kids is the opportunity to fail . . . and to learn from that failure. From The New York Times, September 24, 2013.

Mistakes Improve Children's Learning While Building Competence and Autonomy Rather than protect children from making mistakes, mistakes can be part of the learning and discovery process and actually increase learning. Children build competence through mastering challenges, and autonomy though trying new approaches.

Parents Need An Attitude Adjustment to Improve Their Children's Homework Motivation Parents who want to improve their child's motivation to complete homework this school year need to change their own attitude and behavior, providing more structure to improve children's perceived competence and feelings of warmth to increase perceived relatedness.

Parents Sinking Some Kids With Their Puffed-Up Praise, Study Finds Research by Eddie Brummelman and colleagues suggests that Moms and dads who bathe kids in exaggerated flattery to boost low self-esteem are stifling the very children they hope to elevate, a new study shows. From NBC News, January 3, 2014.

Pursuing Purpose: A Cause or Result of Feeling Connected? Writing for the Positive Psychology News Daily Genevieve Douglass muses about purpose in life and how it might relate to the three needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. She reviews research which suggests that a sense of meaning might be embedded in the basic need of relatedness, which both contributes to and results from prosocial behaviors.

The Psychology of Motivation Explained (in under 300 words) According to Jeremy Dean of PsyBlog, the way to harness the power of self-guiding, internal motivation is to look for competence, autonomy, and relatedness in any activity. Read his succinct summary of the self-determination theory of motivation and engagement here.

Rewards for Students Under a Microscope Whether rewarding children for academic efforts backfires by undermining their intrinsic interest or works to increase productivity continues to be a subject of debate among parents, educators, and psychologists, according to this article from the New York Times by Lisa Guernsey from March 2, 2009. Like it or not, such programs seem to be proliferating, especially in high-poverty areas.

The Secret of Effective Motivation Psychologists Amy Wrzesniewski and Barry Schwartz summarize their research of the internal or instrumental motives of Cadets at the United States West Point Military Academy: Our study suggests that efforts should be made to structure activities so that instrumental consequences do not become motives. Helping people focus on the meaning and impact of their work, rather than on, say, the financial returns it will bring, may be the best way to improve not only the quality of their work but also — counterintuitive though it may seem — their financial success. From, The New York Times, July 4, 2014.

Self-Determination Theory From the website: This website presents a brief overview of SDT and provides resources that address important issue such as human needs, values, intrinsic motivation, development, motivation across cultures, individual differences, and psychological well-being. Also addressed are the applications of Self-Determination Theory to: education, organizations, health care, sport & exercise, parenting, and mental health. Includes bibliography, downloadable questionnaires, and articles in PDF format.

Self-Regulation: Video Talk by Roy Baumeister Roy Baumeister presents this talk to the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, an organization committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges, explaining why willpower and self-control is one of the most important aspects of individual and societal wellbeing (runs 15 minutes and 50 seconds).

Sense of Belonging Increases Meaningfulness of Life [B]elonging to a group provided meaning over and above the value of others or the help they could provide. It’s more than just bonding, therefore, but really feeling like you are fitting in with others which is associated with higher levels of meaningfulness. Just the reverse effect has been shown in previous studies. People who feel excluded from social groups tend to feel that life has less meaning, according to new research by Lambert et al. (2013) and summarized here in PsyBlog, November 25, 2013.

Should Kids Be Bribed To Do Well in School? Describes the fascinating and controversial work by Harvard Economist Roland Fryer who studied financial incentives in the classroom in schools in Chicago, Dallas, Washington and New York. Using sound research design, kids were paid for outcomes like good test scores, not fighting, attendance, or reading. The surprising result, was that the reading group did the best of all groups on standardized reading scores, and continued to excel the following year in the absence of rewards. Read the details here in this first published summary of his work from Time magazine, April 8, 2010, by Amanda Ripley.

3 Core Needs: Satisfying Them and You'll Be Happy Joe Robinson summarizes how to achieve happiness according to Rich Ryan and Ed Deci's Self-Determination Theory. Having our needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness met leads to a host of positive outcomes, including happiness. From The Huffington Post, November 15, 2010.

Tips to Keeping New Year's Resolutions According to Ed Deci the best way to keep on track with your goals for the new year is to think hard about why you’re pursuing them.

You Just Have to Believe: Audacious Ambition Researchers Timothy Judge and John Kammeyer-Mueller have shown that people who believe they can accomplish the goals they set are more likely to accomplish them. This is because if you believe you can accomplish your goal, you are more likely to put in the energy and effort required to attain it. From the PsychCentral blog, December 2013.

Assignments, Exercises, and Activities

Current Researchers and Research Teams

Self-Determination Theory From the website: This website presents a brief overview of SDT and provides resources that address important issue such as human needs, values, intrinsic motivation, development, motivation across cultures, individual differences, and psychological well-being. Also addressed are the applications of Self-Determination Theory to: education, organizations, health care, sport & exercise, parenting, and mental health. Includes bibliography, downloadable questionnaires, and articles in PDF format.

Ken Sheldon Home page of Ken Sheldon, University of Missouri, Columbia. Includes research interests, CV, and PDFs of selected articles. According to Sheldon: My primary research focus is on participants' personal goals, and the effects of different types of personal goals upon growth, development, and well-being. Several years of research are summarized by the "Self-concordance model" (Sheldon & Elliot, JPSP, 1999; Sheldon & Houser-Marko, JPSP, 2001), which integrates goal-striving, need-satisfaction, and well-being change constructs into a single time-sequential model. This model, which is based on Deci and Ryan's self-determination theory but which considerably extends the theory, predicts the long-term effects of choosing personal goals that one enjoys and identifies with.

Electronic Texts

Grouzet et al. (2005) Grouzet,F. M. E., Kasser, T., Ahuvia, A., Dols, J. M. F., Kim, Y., Lau, S., Ryan, R. M., Saunders, S., Schmuck, P., Sheldon, K. M. (2005). The Structure of Goal Contents Across 15 Cultures. Unpublished manuscript. (Opens in PDF format)

Schwartz (2000) Schwartz, B. (2000). Self-Determination: The Tyranny of Freedom. American Psychologist, 55(1), 79-88. (Opens in PDF format)

Examples and Illustrations

Developing Responsible and Autonomous Learners: A Key to Motivating Students From the American Psychological Association (APA): [T]eachers can apply a wealth of psychological research in their classrooms. Psychology's insights can help teachers manage behavior problems, motivate students, assist struggling learners, handle stress and support talented youth. In this module Developing Responsible and Autonomous Learners: A Key to Motivating Students (2014) psychologist Barbara McCombs describes how teachers can use findings from Self-Determination theory and developmental psychology to help create autonomous, self-regulated learners from kindergarten through high school and beyond.

Self-Determination Theory and Exercise Psychology This site focuses on the application of self-determination theory to exercise and physical activity. Includes an overview of the theory (with examples of the 4 kinds of motivation written as mini case studies) and how environments can be structured to meet people's need so that they feel motivated do do physical activity.

Lecture Notes

Slide Presentations

Self-Determination Theory. These slides (in PDF format) on self-determination theory, including background of theory, types of motivation, and applications to weight loss, teaching and learning, well-being, and compliance to medical regimes are from Richard Ryan’s Theories of Personality & Psychotherapy class at the University of Rochester.

Tests, Measures, and Scales


Achieving Fame, Wealth, and Beauty are Psychological Dead Ends, Study Says. Summary of research by Christopher P. Niemiec, Richard M. Ryana and Edward L. Deci (2009) Journal of Personality showing that achieving the proverbial fame and fortune are not all that it's cracked up to be. Includes a video summary and interview with Ed Deci by SciencCentral. (2 minutes, 13 seconds).

Autonomy: Claremont Graduate University Online Video Library. Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, maintains an online video library of selected talks and panel discussions at the University. Relationships that Support Autonomy and Engagement. Reeve, Johnmarshall (University of Iowa). From the 2009 Claremont Symposium on Applied Social Psychology, Enhancing Teaching and Learning: Lessons from Social Psychology. March 28, 2009. 1 hour 5 minutes.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi asks, "What makes a life worth living?" Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of "flow" (Runs 18 minutes, 59 seconds).

Ed Deci on Self-Determination Theory Ed Deci presents an overview of self-determination theory as part of Social PsyClips, a repository of short, visually appealing HD video documentaries of classic and contemporary social psychological theories for teaching purposes (runs 25 minutes 36 seconds).

Ed Deci on Self-Determination Theory in Life's Domains Ed Deci describes the implications of self-determination theory in virtual worlds, health, education, and other life domains as part of Social PsyClips, a repository of short, visually appealing HD video documentaries of classic and contemporary social psychological theories for teaching purposes (runs 11 minutes 25 seconds).

Video Clips from an Intrinsic Motivation Study Beth Hennessey, Wellesley College, conducts research on creativity and intrinsic motivation. These video clips show an interview with a child as he discusses his motivation in school. In the first clip, the child talks about his interest in Social Studies and the satisfaction he gains from working hard on individual projects. In the second video clip the child talks about his experience of learning about constellations at school and his excitement to share his new knowledge with his family in the evening.

Promoting Motivation, Health, and Excellence: Ed Deci at TEDxFlourCity Ed Deci, professor of psychology at University of Rochester and Co-Founder of Self-Determination Theory, describes two common forms of motivation; autonomous and controlled. He discusses the different results of each form and the implications for aspects of our lives; especially work and relationships in this TED talk from June, 2012. (runs 14 minutes, 6 seconds).

Psychologists Put the 'Selfie' On the Couch Psychologists Lisa Obran and Andrew Przybylski explore both the positive (e.g.,self exploration and identity experimentation in the service of relatedness needs and identity formation) and the negative (e.g., indulg[ing] in a narcissistic activity) of selfies in this video for the #BBCtrending program. (runs 1 minute, 29 seconds).

Should Every Kid Get a Trophy Just for Participating? presents this discussion by their commentators on whether children ought to get a trophy just for participating. Presents some interesting ideas to get your students thinking. (Runs 7 minutes, 11 seconds).

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Dan Pink, author of books about the changing world of work, gave a talk on motivation at a recent convention of The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). In this video, he presents a condensed version of his talk while an artist draws amazing graphics to illustrate his ideas. The result is a stunning tour-de-force summary of about a dozen or so psychological studies on what motivates us (runs 10 minutes, 48 seconds).

What Autonomy Means to Me. Promoting the principles of self-determination for people with disabilities and those who support them, is the Self-Determination for Texas project. These principles include Freedom, Authority, Support, Responsibility and Confirmation. In this video, Ricky Broussard, who has been in institutional care for most of his life, describes what self-determination means to him: The right to have control over decision making power to live where he wants, have family and friends to visit or spend the night, choose what he wants to eat and hire and fire the people that work with him (2007). The entire video runs 8 minutes, 54 seconds. Parts that illustrate the importance of autonomy occur at 2:06, 2:49, 4:50, and 6:48. (Note that you can start in the middle of a video on You Tube by adding #t=2m06s to the end of a URL. The numbers before the m specify the exact minute [2 in this example] and the numbers before the s specify the exact seconds [06 in this example] where you wish to start.)

Inspiring Short Video: What is it that you desire most? This short video is actually an advertisement for a Thai Insurance Company. In it, a man is depicted going through his day where things keep going wrong and yet he cheerfully continues to help people around him: "What does he get in return for doing this every day? He gets nothing. He won't be richer. He won't appear on TV. Still anonymous. And not a bit more famous. What he does receive are emotions. He witness happiness. Reaches a deeper understanding. Feels the love. Receives what money can't buy and a world made more beautiful." Published on April 5, 2014. Runs 3 minutes, 5 seconds.

What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work? What motivates us to work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn't just money. But it's not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work This TEDx talk was Posted April 10, 2013 and runs 20 minutes, 27 seconds.

Page last modified by October 14, 2014, at 08:49 AM