News

Psychotherapy and Counseling

Psychotherapy Image

Overview

Understanding clients’ motivation is key in helping to promote personal integration, growth, and change. SDT research on psychotherapy has found, for example, that it makes a difference whether a person freely chooses to start or continue in therapy because it’s personally important to them, or whether they feel forced or pressured into doing so. In other words, whether one’s motivation for therapy is more internal, or more external, matters. But motivation, of course, can change over time, and part of that has to do with the quality of the relationship between the client and the therapist. As well, there is also a lot that we are only now starting to learn about the link between people’s psychological needs and the kind of problems they may be struggling with in life. It’s possible that many of the struggles we encounter can be traced, at least in part, to experiences in which our basic needs (for relationships, for feelings of competence, for opportunities to make personally meaningful choices) are not or cannot be satisfied.

In Practice

When clients feel listened to, valued, and understood by their therapist, they are more likely to engage in counseling for reasons that feel personally important and self-chosen. This also seems to be the case as they begin to feel more confident, in the course of therapy, that change is possible for them. Again, we are learning a lot about how the way that client and counselor work together makes a difference in the therapy; in other words, the quality of their relationship matters. As well, learning new ways to meet one’s needs for relationships, competence, and choice can be part of the work of therapy, from an SDT perspective.

Take-Aways

  • SDT suggests that motivation matters: why a person chooses to come to therapy, to continue in therapy, or to stop therapy, makes a difference.
  • Outcomes generally seem to be better when choices are made for reasons that are more internal (personally valued, freely made) than more external (under threat or feelings of pressure or control).
  • Basic needs for relationships, for competence, and for choice are important; living in circumstances that don’t provide opportunities to satisfy these needs, whether in the short term or in the long term, can have a negative impact on one’s well-being.
  • Within the framework of SDT, a therapist can help the client to explore their reasons for coming to therapy, and can work with the client to identify and to practice new ways to satisfy their needs for relationships, competence, and choice, when it seems that deprivation in one or more of those areas may be at the root of their current problems.

Social Issues

Social Issues

Overview

Our increasingly multicultural societies are confronting hard social issues like prejudice, stigma, and victimization. Self-determination theory puts satisfaction of basic needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness – or a lack thereof – at the core of these problematic social issues. When people are in need supportive environments, they tend to be inclusive and help others. However, when people are in environments that thwart their basic needs, they tend to express prejudice and aggress on others. This seems to set off a vicious cycle whereby those hurtful behaviors further thwart basic psychological needs, and the needs of those they hurt. Finally, the key to intervening on these problems is providing support for basic psychological needs – especially the need for autonomy, as being prosocial and inclusive aligns with most people’s deeply-held values. 

In Practice

Prejudice: Though national trends show a decline in racism, sexism, and homophobia over the past several decades, these and other prejudices still abound throughout society. Work in SDT tries to understand this gap, in part, by examining the quality of people’s motivation to regulate their prejudice. When people are autonomous in their desire to regulate their prejudice, it stems from their core values and beliefs, and they have a higher quality of motivation to monitor the stereotypes and prejudice they may hold. In contrast, people who are controlled in their motives to regulate their prejudice do not express prejudice out of fear of being criticized or sanctioned (e.g., at work), and this poorer form of prejudice regulation predicts higher levels of explicit and implicit prejudice. Interventions that support people’s autonomy are more effective at reducing prejudice because they help people to better internalize the value of not acting on prejudice. Conversely, prejudice-reduction interventions that are controlling (even if well-intentioned) exacerbate the problem of prejudice as they promote this poorer form of prejudice regulation. 

Bullying: Parents and teachers play a key role in protecting against bullying behavior. Studies show that controlling parenting styles are a risk factor for kids engaging in face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying, whereas autonomy-supportive parenting styles buffer against both types of bulling. Similarly, teachers that are more autonomy supportive tend to foster more inclusive behavior among students, whereas controlling teachers produce more bullying behavior. This suggests, again, the potential for autonomy-supportive interventions to curb bullying and other aggressive behaviors in youth.

Stigma: Those who have a stigmatized, or socially devalued, identity are often on the receiving end of prejudice and bullying, and for this reason, they show higher rates of mental and physical health problems. Work in SDT shows that autonomy-supportive relationships can act as a buffering factor to these health disparities by helping them to express and accept their stigmatized identity. For example, studies with lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals reveal that autonomy-supportive relationships (parents, friends, co-workers) protect mental and physical health because they allow people to be ‘out’ about their sexual identity. In other words, autonomy support allows people to be their authentic selves, including expressing parts of themselves that are socially devalued, and this greatly benefits health.

Take-aways 

  • Need satisfaction is at the core of problematic social behaviors like bullying, ostracism, and discrimination. There seems to be a vicious cycle of need thwarting environments giving rise to problematic behavior, and in turn, engaging in this problematic behavior further thwarts basic psychological needs. 
  • Autonomy support is effective at reducing these problem behaviors, whereas control can make the problem worse.
  • It seems, then, that a core aspect of providing autonomy support to others – to children, a spouse, friends, coworkers, students – is embracing diversity, and accepting others in all of their diverse identities and perspectives.

Covid-19

CSDT is here through this journey with you to provide information and resources to support your learning and well-being at this time.


ARTICLES & PERSPECTIVES

Public health and risk communication during COVID-19 – enhancing psychological needs to promote sustainable behaviour change

Applying Self-Determination Theory (SDT) and concepts from psychology, philosophy and human computer interaction to better understand human behaviours and motivations during Covid and propose practical guidelines for public health communication focusing on wellbeing and sustainable behaviour change. –Paper by Porat, Nyrup, Calvo, Paudyal, & Ford

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The population is no longer motivated. How can we create a motivating climate?

The survey results show that Belgian citizens’ motivation for following Covid measures is diminishing rapidly. This is not only due to the long duration of the corona crisis so far, but also due to insufficient scientifically-substantiated commitment to behavioral factors to manage the crisis. In this report, you will find an overview of the main results of the recent surveys, researchers advocate an interdisciplinary approach, and offer a series of recommendations (do’s and don’ts) of motivational communication and policy. –Report by the Psychology & Corona Working Group

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Health Surveillance During Covid-19 Pandemic

New health surveillance technologies use machine learning and automated decision making to track people’s digital footprints, identify those who are potentially infected, trace their contacts, and enforce social distancing. These technologies can facilitate autonomy, but also can threaten it. In this just-released editorial in BMJ, Rafael Calvo, Sebastian Deterding & Richard Ryan look at this topic and why autonomy matters in digital tracing.

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The Impact of Environmental Threat on Controlling Parenting

Timely new SDT article contributes to the fight against the detrimental consequences of the Covid-19 crisis on parenting. Study by Jean-Michel Robichaud, Mélodie Roy, Francis Ranger, & Geneviève A. Mageau reveals significant link from environmental threats to children’s controlled motivation.

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Pandemic Confronts the Motivation Fallacy within Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programs

New article discussing patient behavior change to exercise in a pandemic, proposing a theoretical discussion in light of SDT, aiming to make pulmonary rehabilitation a setting that supports autonomous forms of motivation. 

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Is Sweden’s coronavirus strategy more psychologically sustainable?

Radio Sweden spoke to Karin Weman Josefsso, an SDT scholar at Halmstad University, to find out if one approach could be more psychologically sustainable than the other.

LISTEN


British Columbia approach to COVID-19

Interesting thoughts on motivation for social distancing in this article citing SDT researcher Fred Grouzet who says British Columbia is taking a correct approach to COVID-19.

READ NEWS ARTICLE


RESOURCES

SDT Covid Questionnaire

Questionnaire Packet developed & used for this ongoing SDT-based study in Belgium on citizens’ basic psychological needs, security, and adherence.

DOWNLOAD PACKET


Support Resources for Remote Teams and Individuals

In times like these where many are working remotely, it’s important to keep teams and colleagues engaged and afloat. So motivationWorks, led by Scott Rigby and SDT cofounders, have rolled out free on-line tools and resources to both assess and help maintain motivation, coping and well-being. 

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Communication Principles and Strategies for Providers of Covid-19 Patients

Based on SDT principles, Kenneth Resnicow and colleagues developed resources to support practitioner communication skills during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Facebook Group Page on SDT & COVID Research

Let’s connect and help each other make a difference – Join us on our Facebook Group.

JOIN US


PROJECTS IN PROGRESS

Large SDT Covid Project: Creating a Motivational Climate for Belgian Citizens’ Adherence to Measures

To what extent have Belgian citizens been and continue to be motivated to stick to governmental measures to limit the spread of the virus? An ongoing study by researchers at Ghent University led by Maarten Vansteenkiste and Bart Soens examine the role of citizens’ motivation in following prevention measures over time.

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Motivating Messages About Social Distancing

Do autonomy-supportive messages help people internalize the value of social distancing, and do controlling messages backfire? These are the questions SDT researchers, Nicole Legate, Thuy-vy Ngyuen, Netta Weinstein, Arlen Moller & Lisa Legault are exploring as part of a larger Covid-19 Psychological Science Accelerator project. 

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Adaptation of parents of schoolchildren to pandemic

A 3-week, daily diary study (between T1 and T2) of more than 450 parents of school children collected in Germany between end of March and end of April looking at some SDT constructs such as need fulfillment and vitality. If interested in data, please see link below and contact Andreas Neubauer.

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How have you been dealing with this? Study looking at strategies to deal with Covid19

International and cross-cultural study developed in collaboration with the University of Algeria (Spain) and the Meaning-Centered Counseling Institute (Canada). Survey takes 20 minutes for adults 18+. Your help will help us.

READ MORE & PARTICIPATE


‘Meaning’ in the Coronavirus Crisis

Based on SDT principles, SDT scholar Frank Martela and team in Finland are running a daily diary study on meaning during this crisis. Looking at daily meaningfulness, basic psychological needs, fear, vitality and other constructs. 

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SDT in Online Learning

Are you an online learner? If you have taken and/or taking online classes for your undergrad or grad education, please consider participating in our research study on online learner motivation.

READ MORE & PARTICIPATE


Stories From the Front Line of the COVID-19 Crisis

A proposed study by Lesley-Ann Guntonexplores the experiences including need satisfaction and frustration of vital key workers during this crisis such as retail workers in grocery stores, carers, and delivery drivers. 

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Covid-19 Project: “Motivating Messages About Social Distancing”

April 16, 2020 by Shannon

Do autonomy-supportive messages help people internalize the value of social distancing, and do controlling messages backfire? These are the questions SDT researchers, Nicole Legate, Thuy-vy Ngyuen, Netta Weinstein, Arlen Moller & Lisa Legault are exploring as part of a larger Covid-19 Psychological Science Accelerator project. 

Continue Reading

Psychotherapy

Overview

Understanding clients’ motivation is key in helping to promote personal integration, growth, and change. SDT research on psychotherapy has found, for example, that it makes a difference whether a person freely chooses to start or continue in therapy because it’s personally important to them, or whether they feel forced or pressured into doing so. In other words, whether one’s motivation for therapy is more internal, or more external, matters. But motivation, of course, can change over time, and part of that has to do with the quality of the relationship between the client and the therapist. As well, there is also a lot that we are only now starting to learn about the link between people’s psychological needs and the kind of problems they may be struggling with in life. It’s possible that many of the struggles we encounter can be traced, at least in part, to experiences in which our basic needs (for relationships, for feelings of competence, for opportunities to make personally meaningful choices) are not or cannot be satisfied.

In Practice

When clients feel listened to, valued, and understood by their therapist, they are more likely to engage in counseling for reasons that feel personally important and self-chosen. This also seems to be the case as they begin to feel more confident, in the course of therapy, that change is possible for them. Again, we are learning a lot about how the way that client and counselor work together makes a difference in the therapy; in other words, the quality of their relationship matters. As well, learning new ways to meet one’s needs for relationships, competence, and choice can be part of the work of therapy, from an SDT perspective.

Take-Aways

  • SDT suggests that motivation matters: why a person chooses to come to therapy, to continue in therapy, or to stop therapy, makes a difference.
  • Outcomes generally seem to be better when choices are made for reasons that are more internal (personally valued, freely made) than more external (under threat or feelings of pressure or control).
  • Basic needs for relationships, for competence, and for choice are important; living in circumstances that don’t provide opportunities to satisfy these needs, whether in the short term or in the long term, can have a negative impact on one’s well-being.
  • Within the framework of SDT, a therapist can help the client to explore their reasons for coming to therapy, and can work with the client to identify and to practice new ways to satisfy their needs for relationships, competence, and choice, when it seems that deprivation in one or more of those areas may be at the root of their current problems.

Other Applied Domains

Elderly

Shah, K. N., Ryan, R. M., Majeed, Z., Yoruk, Y. B., Yang, H., Hilton, T. N., McMahon, J. M., Hall, W. J., Walck, D., & Luque, A. E. (2016). Enhancing physical function in HIV-infected older adults: A randomized controlled clinical trial.. Health Psychology, 35(6), 563-573. doi: 10.1037/hea0000311

Houlfort, N., Fernet, C., Vallerand, R. J., Laframboise, A., Guay, F., & Koestner, R. (2015). The role of passion for work and need satisfaction in psychological adjustment to retirement. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 88, 84-94. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2015.02.005

Kasser, V. M., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). The relation of psychological needs for autonomy and relatedness to health, vitality, well-being and mortality in a nursing home. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29, 935-954. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1999.tb00133.x

Vallerand, R. J., O'Connor, B. P., & Hamel, M. (1995). Motivation in later life: Theory and assessment. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 41, 221-238.

O'Connor, B. P., & Vallerand, R. J. (1994). The relative effects of actual and experienced autonomy on motivation in nursing home residents. Canadian Journal on Aging, 13, 528-538.

Losier, G. F., Bourque, P. E., & Vallerand, R. J. (1993). A motivational model of leisure participation in the elderly. Journal of Psychology, 127, 153-170.

O'Connor, B. P., & Vallerand, R. J. (1990). Religious motivation in the elderly: A French-Canadian replication and an extension. Journal of Social Psychology, 130, 53-59.

Vallerand, R. J., O'Connor, B. P., & Blais, M. R. (1989). Life satisfaction of elderly individuals in regular community housing, in low-cost community housing, and high and low self-determination nursing homes. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 28, 277-283.

Vallerand, R. J., & O'Connor, B. P. (1989). Motivation in the elderly: A theoretical framework and some promising findings. Canadian Psychology, 30, 538-550.

Religion

Brambilla, M., Assor, A., Manzi, C., & Regalia, C. (2015). Autonomous versus controlled religiosity: Family and group antecedents. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 25, 193-210. doi: 10.1080/10508619.2014.888902

Soenens, B., Neyrinck, B., Vansteenkiste, M., Dezutter, J., Hutsebaut, D., & Duriez, B. (2012). How do perceptions of God as autonomy-supportive or controlling relate to individuals’ social-cognitive processing of religious contents? The role of motives for religious behavior. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 22, 1-21.

Martos, T., Kezdy, A., & Horvath-Szabo, K. (2011). Religious motivations for everyday goals: Their religious context and potential consequences. Motivation and Emotion, 35, 75–88. doi: 10.1007/s11031-010-9198-1

Neyrinck, B., Lens, W., Vansteenkiste, M., & Soenens, B. (2010). Updating Allport’s and Batson’s framework of religious orientations: A reevaluation from the perspective of self-determination theory and Wulff’s social cognitive model. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 49, 425–438.

Duriez, B., Soenens, B., Neyrinck, B., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2009). Is religiosity related to better parenting?: Disentangling religiosity from religious cognitive style. Journal of Family Issues, 30, 1287-1307.

Neyrinck, B., Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., Hutsebaut, D., & Duriez, B. (2006). Cognitive, affective and behavioral correlates of internalization of regulations for religious activities. Motivation and Emotion, 30, 321-332.

Sheldon, K. M. (2006). Catholic guilt? Comparing catholics' and protestants' religious motivations. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 16, 209-223.

Assor, A., Cohe, Cohen-Malayev, M., Kaplan, A., & Friedman, D. (2005). Choosing to stay religious in a modern world: Socialization and exploration processes leading to an integrated internalization of religion among Israeli Jewish youth. Advances in Motivation and Achievement, 14, 105-150. doi: 10.1016/S0749-7423(05)14005-9

Neyrinck, B., Lens, W., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2005). Goals and regulations of religiosity: A motivational analysis. In M. L. Maehr & S. Karabenick (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement (pp. 77-106). Greenwich, CT: Jai Press Inc.

Baard, P. P., & Aridas, C. (2001). Motivating your church: How any leader can ignite intrinsic motivation and growth. New York: Crossroads Publishin. doi:

Strahan, B. J., & Craig, B. (1995). Marriage, family, and religion. Sydney, Australia: Adventist Institute of Family Relations.

Baard, P. P. (1994). A motivational model for consulting with not-for-profit organizations: A study of church growth and participation. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 46, 19-31.

Ryan, R. M., Rigby, C. S., & King, K. (1993). Two types of religious internalization and their relations to religious orientation and mental health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 586-596.

O'Connor, B. P., & Vallerand, R. J. (1990). Religious motivation in the elderly: A French-Canadian replication and an extension. Journal of Social Psychology, 130, 53-59.

Politics

Chua, S. N., & Philippe, F. L. (2015). Autonomy supportive fathers beget system-supporting children: The role of autonomy support on protesting behavior. Personality and Individual Differences, 86, 348-353. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2015.06.038

Losier, G. F., Perreault, S., Koestner, R., & Vallerand, R. J. (2001). Examining individual differences in the internalization of political values: Validation of the Self-determination Scale of Political Motivation. Journal of Research in Personality, 35, 41-61.

Losier, G. F., & Koestner, R. (1999). Intrinsic versus identified regulation in distinct political campaigns: The consequences of following politics for pleasure versus personal meaningfulness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 287-298.

Koestner, R., Losier, G. F., Vallerand, R. J., & Carducci, D. (1996). Identified and introjected forms of political internalization: Extending self-determination theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 1025-1036.

Migration

Chirkov, V. I., Vansteenkiste, M., Tao, R., & Lynch, M. F. (2007). The role of self-determined motivation and goals for the study abroad in the adaptation of international students. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 31, 199-222.

Information Literacy

Crow, S. R. (2009). Relationships that foster intrinsic motivation for information seeking. School Libraries Worldwide, 15, 91-112.

Arnone, M. P., Reynolds, R., & Marshall, T. (2009). The effect of early adolescents’ psychological needs satisfaction upon their perceived competence in information skills and intrinsic motivation for research. School Libraries Worldwide, 15, 115-134.

Media and Communications

Rigby, C. S., & Ryan, R. M. (2016). Time well-spent? Motivation for entertainment media and its eudaimonic aspects through the lens of self-determination theory. In L. Reinecke & M. B. Oliver (Eds.), Handbook of media use and well-being: International perspectives on theory and research on positive media effects (pp. 34-48). New York: Routledge.

Music

Krause, A. E., North, A. C., & Davidson, J. W. (2019). Using self-determination theory to examine musical participation and well-being. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 405. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00405

Lalande, D. R., Vallerand, R. J., Lafrenière, M.-A. K., Verner-Filion, J., Laurent, F.-A., Forest, J., & Paquet, Y. (2017). Obsessive passion: A compensatory response to unsatisfied needs. Journal of Personality, 85(2), 163-178. doi: 10.1111/jopy.12229