Acting on your values ​​leads to feeling and functioning better

In this article, I wrote that self-determination theory research shows that when we engage in activities that are in line with our values, we feel and function better. A reader was interested in this and asked me for literature references showing this. You can read my answer here.

Autonomous motivation

An important topic of research within self-determination theory is autonomous motivation. Autonomous motivation is a good quality of motivation that comes in two 'flavors':
  1. Intrinsic motivation (doing what you find interesting or fun;
  2. Internalized motivation (doing what you find useful, important, valuable).

Research into motivation and functioning

Countless studies have shown that we feel better and function better when we are autonomously motivated. Some examples of this are:


In addition, the subject of self-concordance is relevant to the reader's question. Self-concordant (self-aligned) goals are goals that represent an individual's enduring interests and self-determining values ​​(Sheldon, 2002). So if you pursue self-concordant goals, you act in accordance with your values ​​and interests.
Research based on the self-concordance model has shown that self-concordance goals:
  1. lead to more implementation intentions (Carraro & Gaudreau, 2011);
  2. lead to: sustained effort in pursuit of goals (Sheldon and Elliot, 1998, Sheldon and Elliot, 1999);
  3. be rehearsed more often (Higgins, 1996);
  4. lead to better self-regulation (Milyavskaya et al., 2015);
  5. promote successful goal achievement (Koestner, Otis, Powers, Pelletier, & Gagnon, 2008).
Self-concordant goals are thought to be more effective than non-self-conforming goals because they are more likely to satisfy basic psychological needs .