The Heart of Character approach is grounded in decades of influential research in Self-Determination Theory.  Presented here are some articles published in professional journals that may be of interest to those curious to know more about Heart of Character’s research-based foundation.

Self-Determination Theory founders Edward Deci and Richard Ryan lay out in this article their theory of fundamental human psychological needs and the relationship between those needs and self-determined behavior.  Published in Psychological Inquiry in 2000, this paper neatly describes the psychological foundation of self-determination theory.

Authors Christopher Niemiec and Richard Ryan describe the key principles of Self-Determination Theory as they apply to the educational setting in this article from Theory and Research in Education from 2009.

Using rewards to get the behavior we want from our students might produce desirable short-term benefits, but these same rewards have the effect of lessening a child’s intrinsic motivation to perform them.  In this important article, the researchers report on the unexpected effect that such rewards have on undermining the very type of motivation teachers most want to inspire.  This article appeared in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1973.

Researcher Johnmarshal Reeve has conducted a terrific body of work related to the application of self-determination theory in educational settings.  In his article with Marc Halusic published in Theory and Research in Education in 2009, they describe practical strategies for K-12 teachers interested in putting the theory into practice in their classrooms.

More than a theory of motivation, self-determination theory also speaks to wellbeing and finding purpose in one’s life.  In this article from The Journal of Happiness Studies published in 2008, Richard Ryan makes connections between happiness, Eudaimonia, and the meeting of fundamental human needs described by self-determination theory.

Those interested in learning more about Self Determination Theory can visit, the website supporting the international effort to further the research and spread its application to a variety of settings.