Showing posts from February, 2017

Self-determination theory in organizations

In a new article Deci et al. (2017) give an overview of research within self-determination theory which is relevant for work and organizations. Among other things, they describe the important distinction between autonomous and controlled motivation (see more about this distinction) and the three basic psychological need (for competence, autonomy, and relatedness). The article reviews much research with as central theme that autonomous motivation (vs controlled motivation) is associated with both performance and wellness. Also, the show that the key to fostering autonomous motivation is to create workplaces which contribute to the satisfaction of the above mentioned basic needs. The picture below summarizes these points:

Why is controlled regulation so prevalent?

A training participant asked me recently: "Why is controlled regulation so popular when it is clear that an autonomy supportive way of working is so much more effective?" I'll try to answer this question below. Before I do, let me give you a brief summary of what controlled regulation and autonomy support mean. Much research into self-determination theory has shown that autonomous motivation has many advantages over controlled motivation. An autonomy-supportive way of parenting, teaching, coaching, or managing works much better than a controlled approach. The figure below (a translation from a picture from my Dutch book Kiezen voor progressie (2016) summarizes the differences between autonomous and controlled motivation and their different effects:

The instability and malleability of personality

When I was educated as a psychologist, in the 1980's, the dominant way of thinking in psychology tended to what we would now call a fixed mindset. Roughly, as students, we were taught that both intelligence and personality are hardly malleable from a certain age on (say, 18). Personality was roughly defined as the whole of stable behavioral tendencies of individuals. It was thought that individual differences in personality were relatively stable and also meaningful, for example for how we should make career choices.