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

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,034 ratings  ·  74 reviews
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 se ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 1st 1996 by Penguin Books (first published June 13th 1995)
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really liked it 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,034 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Feb 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended highly, but with significant caveats (thus the three stars).

The simple, brilliant insight of this book for me was as follows (vastly simplified from the author's full theory, of course):

People do things effectively -- whether it is to work, to learn, or to cooperate in any social relationship -- when they are "self-motivated". This means they must be (1) technically capable of doing what they are doing, (2) understand, not just "know", why they are doing that they are doing, (3) feel
Nov 11, 2016 rated it liked it
I have a few messages for all of you reading this book.
don't waste your time on work that you don’t enjoy. It is obvious that you cannot succeed in something that you don’t like. Patience, passion, and dedication come easily only when you love what you do. IT IS stupid to be afraid of others’ opinions. Fear weakens and paralyzes you. If you let it, it can grow worse and worse every day until there is nothing left of you, but a shell of yourself. LiSten to your inner voice and go with it. Some pe
Oct 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Hmmmm...well I suspect I suffer from the malady of wanting to read more 'textbook' like renditions of psychological/sociological material because I just can't get into the whole Daniel Pink era of (what feels like to me) really simplified extrapolations of scientific research. I prefer to read the 'drier' stuff and draw my own conclusions...

With this one, the conclusions and recommendations drawn and made by Deci just seemed so very intuitive and common sense given the basic outcomes of the rese
Nelson Zagalo
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation" é um bom livro mas não vai além disso. Aquando da sua leitura precisará de se levar em conta dois elementos: o primeiro, que o livro é de 1995; e o segundo que Edward Deci, conjuntamente com Richard Ryan, são duas das maiores autoridades no campo da Motivação. Porque digo isto? Porque aquilo que Deci aqui apresenta é para nós em 2015 algo já assimilado, apesar da sociedade muitas vezes o esquecer, mas se o é hoje aceite deve-se a estes dois i ...more
Irene Kaloyannis
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In the last 8 months or so, I've read a couple self-help-type books, books I'm naturally averse to so most were read for classes. I despised one (that book is The Art of Not Giving a F*ck please do not read it, one day I'll get around to writing a review for that kaki) and found the others okay. This one was not only of very high quality, but has now become one of my favorite books. I was enthralled beginning to end (I actually read the whole thing in one night). I learned so much about how to m ...more
Wiebke Kuhn
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Based in decades of research about how people get motivated, the message of the book is quite clear: Develop an autonomous self that has resilience in the face of people wanting to control you, and you will live a better life.
The ramifications for any profession that can be considered a service -- education, medical, government are that we need to treat people in ways that empower them to be their autonomous selves rather than try to control them.
On a more granular, education-focused, level, his
Andrew Scott
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology, astc
A fascinating account of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation; the dangers of 'incentivising' desired behaviour, and the power of autonomy - and therefore of autonomy-support as a key strategy for educators and leaders.
Steven Woloszyk - (Wa-LUSH-ick)
B. F. Skinner, who many believe to be the father of behavioral psychology, believed in consequences. If good behavior is rewarded, it will be repeated. If we punish bad behavior, it will cease.

This has been a mainstay with parenting, teaching, coaching, and in the business world for the better part of the 20th century and continues to be a prevailing thought today.

Then we have Edward L. Deci and his band of psychologists that say, “Wait, hold up everybody!”

Deci says that motivation is derived f
Apr 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Again, I was assigned this book for reading for a class, and I have a mixed opinion. The content, meaning the ideas, concepts and implications of the author's message, is probably in the 4-5 star range. Deci's research showed very interesting things about what motivates us, and more importantly what doesn't. A few key points: rewarding someone for an activity they would have intrinsically enjoyed, results in them engaging in that activity less when the rewards are removed, even though they natur ...more
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
"At the heart of human freedom is the experience of choice." This was a very well researched and interesting study of the importance of letting individuals be "autonomy-supportive" or in other words making choices because of their own internal motivation. There are so many applications in this book from parenting to teaching and government. The importance of not being controlled and the responsibility that come with it are what lead us as humans to become most actualized. Definitely recommended ...more
May 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Good information, but could have been a lot more concise. I've read textbooks that are more interesting to read. I forced myself to read most of it because it was recommended reading for work.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
In fairly simple writing, Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation by Edward L. Deci and Richard Flaste explains that humans perform best when they are totally “autonomous” with themselves and free from extrinsic motivations such as fame, money, and external pressures. 

The process of reading not only served as a valuable learning experience but also triggered moments of thoughtful self-reflection. The book's reasoning of how "people can be controlling with themselves to satisfy their
Steve Garvin
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
The work Deci and Ryan have done on inner motivation have been instrumental in helping me formulate my own strategies for finding satisfaction and fulfillment in my career. Along with a few other books and areas of research, their work on self-determinism have helped me go from being severely depressed and giving up on ever finding a way to create a living that worked for me to actually being fulfilled in what I am doing. That said, I'm glad I had a decent foundation before trying to digest this ...more
Tugrul Yuksel
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is an amazing book as a primer to intrinsic motivation. Autonomy, desire for competency (personal causation), relatedness - powerful. However, the writing style hinders the points to come across. Especially the very last paragraph gave me impression that the book was unfinished or even not heavily edited.
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: improv-co
A pretty straightforward book that pushes back somewhat on behaviorism. The big takeaway for me was, how do you build a system that encourages people to positively change and feel motivated rather than forcing change on people. The book was a little dry here and there, but over all it's a good quick read.
Kyle Woodhouse
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
The book was fine. The good = hammered home the need for intrinsic motivation and autonomous support. What I wanted more of = didn’t provide enough examples or practices in actually improving in areas the it recommended. Lots of great research
but not a lot of practical application.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although this was a book for University, I found it really interesting.

This book looks at how we do what we do and the reasons for this and in many ways why we are maybe not fulfilling our potential and creating the lives we want to have.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: em-mussar
Really excellent explanation of basic psychological drives for autonomy, competence and relatedness. Helped me understand what I see in the school kids I work with, myself, and to learn how to be more effective as a parent, mentor and supervisor.
David Mitchell
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thought provoking ideas that can be applied in everyday life
Warren Cann
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
Terrific book. Highly recommended.
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's not my favorite but it should be read. For my part, I had a lot of trouble reading it, finding the catchphrase!
Gum Ang
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ready-to-start
One of the Important original work of Deci on Autonomy and Self-Motivation. Written more than two decades ago and still formed a great part of the basic fundamental of Self-Determination Theory.
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I had to read this for a class and I honestly usually don't mind assigned readings but I found this so draining and boring. It seems like everything could've been said in 5 chapters, it felt like every chapter was saying the same thing as the previous one. The description of some experiments were interesting but not much more than that.
Mitchell Moos
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Could be significantly shortened, many of the main points of the book are tortured or needlessly reiterated.
Anna Rátkai
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really interesting book, however I do not understand the "self motivation" part in it. What I learned from the book, is that intrinsic motivation is what really makes me do what I do, but definetly did not explained how to use\improve it.
Glenn Ardi
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-development
Bagi sebagian orang, kalo hari gini masih ngomongin tema "motivasi" mungkin udah kedengeran BASI kali yah? Ada puluhan atau bahkan ratusan orang di Indonesia yang meng-klaim dirinya sebagai seorang "motivator", sibuk hampir setiap hari ngomong berbusa-busa tentang motivasi, memberi dorongan semangat pada berbagai kalangan/lapisan masyarakat yang telah jemu dengan rutinitas dan kehidupannya.

Sebagian besar para "motivator" itu biasanya punya resep jitu yang ampuh, seperti memberikan analogi, mengu
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I checked out this book from the local library based on a book I recently listened to on CD, _Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us_ by Daniel Pink (which reminds me, I still have to put that book on my read list!). At the end of the book (as in many of this type) there is a list of books to read for more information about the topic of motivation.

Why We Do What We Do is the second book I have read from that list (the first, Born Standing Up, was also really great), and I am so glad
Jan 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
A good overview of the author's research on the psychology of motivation. The first half of the book examines how deadlines, pressure, threats, and even rewards have the paradoxical effect of reducing intrinsic motivation on many tasks. This happens because people shift their attention to external incentives and penalties. However, when people feel that they are choosing to do something because they want to do it, they tend to persist longer and learn better. Their feelings of autonomy and compe ...more
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing recommended this book. It's fairly short (211 pages plus notes), and I read it in short segments, sometimes only a few pages a night, so that I could absorb it better. I'm following it up with other books that build on the premises established by Edward L. Deci and his coworkers over the past few decades. More recent books seem to amplify, apply, and illustrate the research Deci conducted. The compound word in the sub-title, "Self-Motivation," might require a whole new word, yet it is ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There were so many helpful insights in this book, but a few that really stood out for me were:
* a better understanding of how to build autonomy supportive environments (not permissive ones). And what it means to actually support autonomy, Deci's whole take on the dynamics of one-up/one-down relationships was illuminating.
* the importance of reflecting on one's own reactivity. I had never seen reactivity described as a manifestation of ego-involvement before.

On the dangers of getting what you as
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