In April, 1999, the first international Self-Determination Theory Conference was held at the University of Rochester. More than forty active self-determination researchers from eighteen universities in the United States, Canada, Germany, and Israel convened at the University of Rochester to present their work, share ideas, and discuss future research directions.
People came with a shared vocabulary, a shared set of concepts, a shared system of thought, and a shared familiarity with an extensive research literature. This allowed everyone to begin immediately discussing important and penetrating issues. Each person had been engaged in her or his unique research program–on values, psychosocial medical interventions, self-regulatory styles, coping processes, the self, organizational dynamics, and so forth–and each of the research programs was briefly reviewed and discussed in relation to the others. Some issues were discussed by several researchers; others were addressed by only one or two. In each case, the issues were the basis for rich and stimulating dialogue, and some led to the specification of empirical questions that are already under examination in various labs.
So exciting were the presentations and discussions that the participants decided it was time to prepare a volume that would draw together the results of several research programs as they relate to and have been organized by SDT. The Handbook of Self-Determination Research , edited by Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan and published by the University of Rochester Press in April 2002, is the result. It summarizes the research programs of these social, personality, clinical, developmental, and applied psychologists who have a shared belief in the importance of self-determination for understanding basic motivational processes and for solving pressing real-world problems.
Nineteen chapters, including an overview of self-determination theory, present the current state of the research in this scientifically rigorous, yet highly relevant, approach to studying human motivation. Some chapters deal with basic theoretical issues while others deal with the application of the theory to various life domains, including parenting, education, health care, organizations, environmentalism, and physical activity.