About Adoptee Rage

Statistics Identify large populations of Adoptees in prisons, mental hospitals and committed suicide.
Fifty years of scientific studies on child adoption resulting in psychological harm to the child and
poor outcomes for a child's future.
Medical and psychological attempts to heal the broken bonds of adoption, promote reunions of biological parents and adult children. The other half of attempting to repair a severed Identity is counselling therapy to rebuild the self.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Self Determination Theory


Self Determination

Self-determination theory (SDT) is a macro theory of human motivation and personality, concerning people's inherent growth tendencies and their innate psychological needs. It is concerned with the motivation behind the choices people make without any external influence and interference. SDT focuses on the degree to which an individual’s behavior is self-motivated and self-determined.
In the 1970s, research on SDT evolved from studies comparing the intrinsic and extrinsic motives, and from growing understanding of the dominant role intrinsic motivation played in an individual’s behavior but it was not until mid-1980s that SDT was formally introduced and accepted as a sound empirical theory. Research applying SDT to different areas in social psychology has increased considerably since the 2000s.
Key studies that led to emergence of SDT included research on intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation refers to initiating an activity for its own sake because it is interesting and satisfying in itself, as opposed to doing an activity to obtain an external goal (extrinsic motivation). Different types of motivations have been described based on the degree they have been internalized. Internalization refers to the active attempt to transform an extrinsic motive into personally endorsed values and thus assimilate behavioural regulations that were originally external.

 Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan later expanded on the early work differentiating between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and proposed three main intrinsic needs involved in self-determination. According to Deci and Ryan, the three psychological needs motivate the self to initiate behavior and specify nutriments that are essential for psychological health and well-being of an individual. These needs are said to be universal, innate and psychological and include the need for competence, autonomy and psychological relatedness.

Basic theory

SDT is centered on the belief that human nature shows persistent positive features, that it repeatedly shows effort, agency and commitment in their lives that the theory calls "inherent growth tendencies." People also have innate psychological needs that are the basis for self-motivation and personality integration.
SDT identifies three innate needs that, if satisfied, allow optimal function and growth:
  1. Competence
  2. Relatedness
  3. Autonomy
These needs are seen as universal necessities that are innate, not learned, and seen in humanity across time, gender and culture.
Deci and Vansteenkiste claim that there are three essential elements of the theory:
  1. Humans are inherently proactive with their potential and mastering their inner forces (such as drives and emotions)
  2. Humans have inherent tendency toward growth development and integrated functioning
  3. Optimal development and actions are inherent in humans but they don’t happen automatically
To actualise their inherent potential they need nurturing from the social environment.
If this happens there are positive consequence (e.g. well being and growth) but if not, there are negative consequences. So SDT emphasises humans’ natural growth toward positive motivation, however this is thwarted if their basic needs are not fulfilled.


SDT supports three basic psychological needs that must be satisfied to foster well-being and health; these needs can be universally applied. However, some may be more salient than others at certain times and will be expressed differently based on time, culture or experience.
Seek to control the outcome and experience mastery
Is the universal want to interact, be connected to, and experience caring for others
Is the universal urge to be causal agents of one's own life and act in harmony with one's integrated self; however, Deci and Vansteenkiste note this does not mean to be independent of others


SDT claims to give a different approach to motivation, considering what motivates a person at any given time as opposed to seeing motivation as a unitary concept. SDT makes distinctions between different types of motivation and the consequences of them.

Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation is the natural, inherent drive to seek out challenges and new possibilities that SDT associates with cognitive and social development.
Cognitive evaluation theory (CET) is a sub-theory of SDT that specifies factors explaining intrinsic motivation and variability with it and looks at how social and environmental factors help or hinder intrinsic motivations. CET focuses on the needs of competence and autonomy.
Claiming social context events like feedback on work or rewards lead to feelings of competence and so enhance intrinsic motivations. Deci found positive feedback enhanced intrinsic motivations and negative feedback diminished it. Vallerand and Reid went further and found that these effects were being mediated by perceived control.
Autonomy however must accompany competence in order for people to see their behaviours as self determined by intrinsic motivation. For this to happen there must be immediate contextual support for both needs or inner resources based on prior development support for both needs.
CET and intrinsic motivation is also linked to relatedness through the hypothesis that intrinsic motivation will flourish if linked with a sense of security and relatedness. Grolnick and Ryan found lower intrinsic motivation in children who believed their teachers to be uncaring or cold and so not fulfilling their relatedness needs.

Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation comes from external sources. Deci and Ryan developed Organismic Integration Theory (OIT), as a sub-theory of SDT, to explain the different ways in which extrinsically motivated behaviour is regulated.
OIT details the different forms of extrinsic motivation and the contexts in which they come about. It is the context of such motivation that concerns the SDT theory as these contexts affect whether the motivations are internalised and so integrated into the sense of self.
OIT describes four different types of extrinsic motivations that often vary in terms of their relative autonomy:
  1. Externally regulated behaviour: Is the least autonomous, it is performed because of external demand or possible reward. Such actions can be seen to have an externally perceived locus of control.
  2. Introjected regulation of behaviour: describes taking on regulations to behaviour but not fully accepting said regulations as your own. Deci and Ryan claim such behaviour normally represents regulation by contingent self-esteem, citing ego involvement as a classic form of introjections. This is the kind of behaviour where people feel motivated to demonstrate ability to maintain self-worth. While this is internally driven Deci and Ryan say introjected behaviour is on an externally perceived locus of control because they aren’t perceived as part of self.
  3. Regulation through identification: Is a more autonomy driven form of extrinsic motivation. It involves consciously valuing a goal or regulation so that said action is accepted as personally important.
  4. Integrated Regulation: Is the most autonomous kind of extrinsic motivation. Occurring when regulations are fully assimilated with self so they are included in a person's self evaluations and beliefs on personal needs. Because of this, integrated motivations share qualities with intrinsic motivation but are still classified as extrinsic because the goals that are trying to be achieved are for reasons extrinsic to the self, rather than the inherent enjoyment or interest in the task.
Extrinsically motivated behaviours can be integrated into self. OIT proposes internalization is more likely to occur when there is a sense of relatedness.
Ryan, Stiller and Lynch found children will internalize school’s extrinsic regulations when they felt secure and cared for by parents and teachers.
Internalisation of extrinsic motivation is also linked to competence. OIT suggests that feelings of competence in activities should facilitate internalisation of said actions.
Autonomy is particularly important when its regulations are trying to be integrated into a person’s sense of self. If an external context allows a person to integrate regulations they must feel competent, related and autonomous. They must also understand in terms of their other goals the regulation in order for a sense of autonomy to be facilitated. This was supported by Deci, Eghrari, Patrick and Leone who found in laboratory settings if a person was given a meaningful reason for uninteresting behaviour along with support for their sense of autonomy and relatedness they internalized and integrated their behaviour.

Basic needs and intrinsic motivation

White and deCharms proposed that the need for competence and autonomy is the basis of intrinsic motivation and behaviour. This is a link between people's basic needs and their motivations.


Deci found that offering people extrinsic rewards for behaviour that is intrinsically motivated undermined the intrinsic motivation as they grow less interested in it. Initially intrinsically motivated behaviour becomes controlled by external rewards, which undermines their autonomy.
Further research by Amabile, DeJong and Lepper found other external factors like deadlines, which restrict and control, also decrease intrinsic motivation.
Situations that give autonomy as opposed to taking it away also have a similar link to motivation. Studies looking at choice have found that increasing a participant’s options and choices increases their intrinsic motivation to said activities.


Deci found that giving people unexpected positive feedback on a task increases people’s intrinsic motivation to do it, meaning that this was because the positive feedback was fulfilling people's need for competence. In fact, giving positive feedback on a task served only to increase people's intrinsic motivation and decreased extrinsic motivation for the task.
Vallerand and Reid found negative feedback has the opposite effect (i.e., decreasing intrinsic motivation by taking away from people's need for competence).


During a study on the relationship between infants' attachment styles, their exhibition of mastery-oriented behaviour and their effect during play, Frodi, Bridges and Grolnick failed to find significant effects: "Perhaps somewhat surprising was the finding that the quality of attachment assessed at 12 months failed to significantly predict either mastery motivation, competence, or affect 8 months later, when other investigators have demonstrated an association between similar constructs ..." Yet they note that larger sample sizes could be able to uncover such effects: "A comparison of the secure/stable and the insecure/stable groups, however, did suggest that the secure/stable group was superior to the insecure/stable groups on all mastery-related measures. Obviously, replications of all the attachment-motivation relations are needed with different and larger samples."

Individual differences

SDT argues that needs are innate but can be developed in a social context. Some people will develop stronger needs than others, creating individual differences. However individual differences within the theory focus on concepts resulting from the degree which needs have been satisfied or not satisfied.
Within SDT there are two general individual difference concepts, Causality Orientations and Life Goals.

Causality orientations

Causality orientations are motivational orientations that refer to either the way people orient to an environment and regulate their behaviour because of this or the extent to which they are self determined in general across many settings. SDT created three orientations: autonomous, controlled and impersonal.
  1. Autonomous Orientations: result from satisfaction of the basic needs
  2. Strong controlled orientations: Result from satisfaction of competence and relatedness needs but not of autonomy and is linked to regulation through internal and external contingences, which lead to rigid functioning and diminished well being.
  3. Impersonal Orientations: Results from failing to fulfil all three needs. This is also related to poor functioning and ill being.
According to the theory people have some amount of each of the orientations, which can be used to make predictions on a persons psychological health and behavioural outcomes

Life goals

Life goals are long term goals people use to guide their activities and they fall into two categories:
  1. Intrinsic Aspirations: Contain life goals like affiliation generativity and personal development.
  2. Extrinsic Aspirations: Have life goals like wealth, fame and attractiveness.
There have been several studies on this subject that chart intrinsic goals being associated with greater health, well being and performance.