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Why We Do What We Do

240 pages, 1996



705 books


909 books

Rewards can be effective in motivating children to do their homework, but psychologist Edward L. Deci argues that rewards are an inferior form of motivation. 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, 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?

Understanding Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

In 'Why We Do What We Do', Edward L. Deci explores the concept of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. He explains that intrinsic motivation comes from within and is driven by personal interest or enjoyment, while extrinsic motivation is driven by external rewards or punishments. Understanding these two types of motivation can help us better understand our own behaviors and actions.

The Importance of Autonomy

Deci emphasizes the importance of autonomy in our lives. He suggests that when people feel autonomous, they are more likely to be intrinsically motivated and engaged in what they are doing. This can lead to greater satisfaction and success in various aspects of life, from work to personal relationships.

The Role of Environment in Motivation

The book also highlights how our environment can impact our motivation. Deci suggests that environments that support our autonomy and competence can enhance our intrinsic motivation, while those that are controlling or demanding can undermine it. This insight can help us create more supportive environments for ourselves and others.

The Power of Self-Determination

In 'Why We Do What We Do', you'll find that self-determination is a key theme. Deci argues that when we feel self-determined, we are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and satisfied with our lives. This can encourage us to take more control over our actions and decisions.

Applying the Self-Determination Theory

Deci doesn't just explore the theory of self-determination, he also provides practical ways to apply it in our daily lives. Whether it's in our personal relationships, at work, or in our personal growth, understanding and applying this theory can lead to more fulfilling and satisfying experiences.

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Deci's work is a profound exploration of the innermost workings of our minds, revealing the hidden reasons behind our actions and choices. It's a must-read for anyone seeking to understand human motivation.

Daniel PinkDaniel Pink - Bestselling Author

Deci's book is a groundbreaking piece of work that offers a comprehensive view of human motivation. It's a seminal text in the field of psychology.

Richard RyanRichard Ryan - Psychology Professor

Deci's book is a revolutionary exploration of the human psyche, shedding light on the reasons behind our actions and decisions. It's a must-read for anyone interested in understanding human behavior.

Martin SeligmanMartin Seligman - Positive Psychology
Daniel PinkRichard RyanMartin Seligman


authorDaniel Pink

Daniel Pink

media personalityauthor

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