Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-motivation

Paperback | August 1, 1996

byEdward L. Deci, Richard Flaste

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What motivates us as students, employees, and individuals?

If you reward your children for doing their homework, they will usually respond by getting it done. But is this the most effective method of motivation? No, says psychologist Edward L. Deci, who challenges traditional thinking and shows that this method actually works against performance. The best way to motivate people—at school, at work, or at home—is to support their sense of autonomy. Explaining the reasons why a task is important and then allowing as much personal freedom as possible in carrying out the task will stimulate interest and commitment, and is a much more effective approach than the standard system of reward and punishment. We are all inherently interested in the world, argues Deci, so why not nurture that interest in each other? Instead of asking, "How can I motivate people?" we should be asking, "How can I create the conditions within which people will motivate themselves?"

"An insightful and provocative meditation on how people can become more genuinely engaged and succesful in pursuing their goals." —Publisher's Weekly

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From Our Editors

In a book that challenges authoritarian thinking about motivation, a distinguished social psychologist offers an alternative to current reward/punishment theory, which, far from anarchy, espouses our ordered, internalized sense of freedom, responsibility, and commitment.

From the Publisher

What motivates us as students, employees, and individuals?If you reward your children for doing their homework, they will usually respond by getting it done. But is this the most effective method of motivation? No, says psychologist Edward L. Deci, who challenges traditional thinking and shows that this method actually works against ...

Edward L. Deci, Ph.D., professor of pyschology at the University of Rochester, is director of its human motivation program.Richard Flaste, former Science and Health Editor of The New York Times, led the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 1987.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 7.8 × 5.1 × 0.4 inPublished:August 1, 1996Publisher:Penguin Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0140255265

ISBN - 13:9780140255263

Appropriate for ages: 18 - 18

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Why We Do What We DoOne
Authority and Its Discontents

Part One: The Importance of Autonomy And Competence

Two
I'm Only in It for the Money: Early Experiments on Rewards and Alienation

Three
The Need for Personal Autonomy

Four
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation: The Yields of Each

Five
Engaging the World with a Sense of Competence

Part Two: The Role Of Interpersonal Connectedness

Six
The Inner Force of Developement

Seven
When Society Beckons

Eight
The Self in a Social World

Nine
When Society Corrupts

Part Three: How It All Works

Ten
How to Promote Autonomy

Eleven
Promoting Healthy Behavior

Twelve
Being Autonomous Amidst the Controls

Part Four: Conclusion

Thirteen
The Meaning of Human Freedom

Notes on Works Cited
List of Research Articles
Index

From Our Editors

In a book that challenges authoritarian thinking about motivation, a distinguished social psychologist offers an alternative to current reward/punishment theory, which, far from anarchy, espouses our ordered, internalized sense of freedom, responsibility, and commitment.