The psychological theory of self-determination

Two researchers, Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, developed a Self-Determination Theory in which they propose that the three basic needs people have are: competence, relatedness, and autonomy. Sheldon, Williams, and Joiner (2003) wrote that self-determination theory is important in understanding how people maintain or improve physical health. They said that for patients, competence is a need to know how they can reach their health goals and a need to feel they can do the activities corresponding with reaching their goals. Autonomy is a need to make choices related to patients’ health goals. And relatedness is a need for “respect and care” from health care professionals and significant others.


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