Richard M. Ryan is a Professor at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at the Australian Catholic University, North Sydney, who is best known as co-developer (with Edward L. Deci) of Self-Determination Theory: the leading theory of human motivation. Dr. Ryan’s prime focus regarding both education and parenting is on factors that promote motivation and healthy psychological and behavioral functioning. He is among the most cited researchers in psychology and social sciences today and the author of over 400 papers and books in the areas of human motivation and well-being. Professor Ryan has been honored with three lifetime achievement awards for his work on motivation, personal meaning, and self and identity.

Christopher P. Niemiec is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Rochester (New York). His primary interests are in human motivation, emotion, and personality in social contexts. Dr. Niemiec’s research uses Self-Determination Theory to examine the nature and the variety of roles that autonomy plays in life. In addition to the considerable thought he gives to the role of Self-Determination Theory in education, over the last decade he has published on topics as varied as how SDT can improve medication adherence, how it can decrease tobacco use, whether parents should prohibit adolescents’ peer relationships, mindfulness and its relationship to SDT, and what makes a life be considered well-lived.

Wendy S. Grolnick is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Dr. Grolnick’s primary field of interest is in the motivational development of children and adolescents. She focuses on how factors like home and school life facilitate autonomous motivation, and how such motivation helps children regulate their own behavior and initiate responsible action on their own. Dr. Grolnick is currently exploring how parenting practices that include autonomy support (as opposed to control of children), warm involvement, and structure (in contrast to a laissez-faire or more chaotic environment), predict children’s self-motivation, sense of competence, and psycho-social adjustment. Her current work on parenting is also focusing on SDT-related factors that either help, or hinder, adults’ abilities to provide helpful resources to their children.

Avi Assor is a Professor of Educational and School Psychology at Ben Gurion University in Israel. The main focus of his research regards how we help children internalize both values and motivation for learning. Professor Assor is especially concerned about the harm caused by conditional (as opposed to unconditional) parental regard, and is keenly interested in the autonomy supportive benefits that come when adults help children appreciate and examine values and goals. His most recent research has centered on the importance of an inner moral compass and the schemas that support it, because a moral compass helps young people resist negative peer pressure and risky behavior.