ROCHESTER REVIEW: Self-Determined: What motivates you?August 1, 2010 by Shannon

August 2010.


University_of_Rochester_logoTen years ago, the popular business reporter and author Daniel Pink began researching why an increasing number of people were leaving jobs in large organizations to work for themselves. He encountered—“in a pretty cursory way,” as he explains it—work on human motivation by Rochester experimental psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan.

Two years later, Pink began researching how people might be motivated to do creative work. He returned to the work of Deci and Ryan. What he found, he says, was “an absolute treasure trove of research on human motivation”—much of it generated from initial research led by the two professors in Rochester’s Department of Clinical and Social Psychology. In his 2009 book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink placed Deci and Ryan front and center.

“Deci and Ryan, in my view, are the sun around which all this other research orbits,” Pink says. “They’re true pioneers. Forty years from now, we’ll look back on them as two of the most important social scientists of our time.”

What motivates us? How do we get motivated? And why do we describe some people as motivated and others not?

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By Karen McCally