Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation

Front Cover
Penguin, Aug 1, 1996 - Self-Help - 240 pages
1 Review
Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified
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

What people are saying - Write a review

Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO: The Dynamics of Personal Autonomy

User Review  - Kirkus

A persuasive if belabored dissent from the traditional theory that people are motivated to learn by reward and punishment. Deci (Psychology/Univ. of Rochester) and Flaste (former science and health ... Read full review

Review: Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation

User Review  - Ron - Goodreads

A must for parents, teachers, and managers who want to move beyond the options of control and abandonment to encouraging autonomy. Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (1996)

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.

Bibliographic information