Beyond the Quantity of Motivation: Quality of Motivation in Self-Determination Theory

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Unlike the majority of theories on motivation, self-determination theory (SDT) does not focus solely on the amount of motivation but also considers its quality. A student may make a big effort in class to get good grades, satisfy his/her parents, or avoid sanctions. Another student in the same class may make the same effort because of interest, enjoyment, and/or valuing the subject matter for his/her personal development. Thus, SDT differentiates between two types of motivation that reflect these different qualities: autonomous motivation and controlled motivation. The chapter considers the following questions: Do different student experiences reflect different qualities of behavioral engagement (e.g., persistence, flexibility, creativity)? Do the different experiences correlate differently with measures of well-being? And can a teacher/parent/employer do something to support one type of motivation and frustrate the other? The chapter begins by defining the different types of motivation; it explains their measurement and reviews their outcomes. It discusses the extensive research on their antecedents and describes specific SDT-based interventions in education and health care.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Psychology in Action
Subtitle of host publicationEvidence-Based Interventions from Theory to Practice
EditorsKai Sassenberg, Michael L. W. Vliek
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9783030137885
ISBN (Print)9783030137878, 9783030137908
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Autonomous motivation
  • Autonomy support
  • Basic needs
  • Controlled motivation
  • Self-determination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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