Essay: Self-Determination Theory One Interesting Concept

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[. . .] If the individual is secure and has a high degree of intrinsic control, then there is an expectation of society, authority figures, and even stakeholders to be positive and supportive (Pierce, W., et al., 2003).

Extrinsic motivation, in contrast, comes from external, or outside sources. Externally regulated behavior, for instance, happens because there is both a potential of reward and punishment, but is demanded by others. The locus of control is outside the individual, but the motivation is true since it is, based on circumstances, required. Extrinsic motivation also regulates human behavior through identification with a group, a culture, or some organization that defines activities and requires that if one wishes to be a part of this group, one behaves a certain way. The most autonomous type of extrinsic motivation, however, is integrated regulation. This happens when regulations are so fully assimilated within the self that they are included in the individual's mode of defining their own self, believes, and/or personal needs. In other words, one may think these are intrinsic, but in reality, they are pressures from culture and society to be a certain way, and because of the positive feedback from the external group, almost become part of the personality set. Indeed, when humans are cared for, rewarded, and given positive feedback, internalization of extrinsic motivations almost becomes the norm (Sansone & Harackiewicz, 2000).

One can readily see, though, that there is a dichotomy between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation that makes the theory difficult to robustly apply in divergent work situations. Certainly, within the workplace, people perform better and more consistently when they enjoy what they are doing, when they have a feeling of belonging, but the autonomy to work their project in a way that fits their own level of comfort and expertise, while still contributing to the overall positive nature of the project. Needs satisfaction, motivation and well-being are all part of the manner in which self-determination theory becomes real within the workplace. For some, this is the core of biological and social regulation that rewards to continually extrinsically motivate and regulate behavior may, in fact, limit the natural process that has evolved in human behavior to connect humanity to their needs and environment (Gagne & Deci, 2005).

One of the challenges with SDT is the individual differences humans experience within the flux of cultures. Now, particularly, that we are living in a globalized environment, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations differ widely between cultures, cultural sets, and even types of workplaces. Activates done in solitude, for instance, have different consequences than those done with groups -- and the motivation of that group (think the difference between Chinese youth in the 1970s and American college students) change based on the fear/reward paradigm. Some fine SDT too focused on the positive side of humanity, yet one understands that if the basic needs are unmet in an individual, their motivation changes. However, at least for this reader, the two weaknesses of the theory in practice are that it assumes all people have a tendency towards self-actualization, growth and improvement. This does not seem to be true for many individuals. Second, humans are complex, and the basic needs of Maslow are not the basic needs that change over time (from youth to adulthood) or for the culture, the level of awareness, or the innate desire for some to find cognitive joy in various means (reading vs. watching sports, etc.). As humans are unique, a universal theory to explain humans is likely lacking, for good reason. Instead, SDT can help us understand most human motivations most of the time.

Works Cited

Chirikov, V., et al. (2003). Differentiating autonomy from individualism and independence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(1), 97-110.

Cohen, S., & Spacapan, S. (1994). The Social Psychology of Noise. In D. e. Jones (Ed.), Noise and Society (p. Chapter 9). New York: Wiley.

Deci, E., et al., eds. (2002). Handbook of Self-Determination Research. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

Gagne, M., & Deci, E. (2005). Self-Determination theory and Work Motivation. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26(4), 331-62.

Pierce, W., et al. (2003). Positive Effects of Rewards and Performance - Standards on Intinsic Motivation. The Psychological Record, 53(4), 6-26.

Sandel, C. (2010). Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? New York: Farar, Straus and Giroux.

Sansone, C.,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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