Research by psychologists Richard Ryan, PhD, and Edward Deci, PhD, on Self-Determination Theory indicates that intrinsic motivation… flourishes in contexts that satisfy human needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. -American Psychological Association, July 21, 2004

Our 3 basic needs are autonomy, competence, and relatedness.


For us relatedness is feeling cared for and connected to others It has to do with a sense of belonging A feeling that you matter to the other people that are there. And relatedness is enhanced not just by people treating you warmly and including you but it’s also enhanced by your giving to them and your being able to matter in their lives. That’s part of what helps us feel connected. So it’s not a one-way street in relatedness. It has to do with both and again we will show evidence to that effect.


Competence is commonly studied in psychology. Most theories would probably agree with us on this one point is that competence is essential to wellness. To feel effective in your environment, to have some sense of mastery of the things that are important to you very very important. And environments can have a big impact on that experience.


And finally autonomy which as probably been the most controversial but also the most central of all our psychological needs in the sense of research and our integrated mission. So to speak Autonomy refers to behavior that is self endorsed. That you agree with and find congruent within yourself. And so autonomy here means you feel choice full self-initiating. And when you’re fully autonomous you’re wholeheartedly behind the thing that you are doing. And again because of that wholeheartedness is why performance tends to be better when you’re acting out of autonomous motives.