CONFERENCE PRESS RELEASE: What Drives Us? Rochester Model of Human Motivation Attracts Growing Affirmation


June 30th 2010.
Ghent_2350067bIn 1985, with the publication of Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior, University of Rochester psychologists Richard Ryan and Edward Deci launched a new theory for understanding what drives humans. Their model maintained that people are motivated by innate psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness to others – not, as the reigning theories of the day espoused, by inherited instincts or learned responses.
In May, as their Self-Determination Theory observed its quarter century mark with a scientific conference in Ghent, Belgium, it was clear that the Rochester psychological framework is thriving. The four-day conference attracted 128 papers and 276 posters presented by 550 researchers from almost every country in Europe, plus the United States, Canada, China, Russia, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Jordan, Iran, South Africa, Peru, and Colombia.
Application of SDT, as the theory is referred to in the field, included research on everything from well-being and vitality to work management, exercise, health care, relationships, sustainability, religion, nutrition, gaming, parenting and more. Experimental methodology spanned the spectrum, from classic behavioral studies to biological investigations based on brain imaging.
“The beauty of the theory is that it has proven so useful in so many different fields,” says Deci, professor of psychology and Gowen Professor in the Social Sciences. “And it has encouraged lots of cross-cultural analysis to see if these principles hold true in different cultural contexts.”

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