Organismic Integration Theory


Organismic Integration Theory, or OIT, was first conceived of in 1985. It is a sub-theory of Self-Determination Theory. It is a spectrum of motivational states with three primary divisions. The context of the motivation is measured with regard to the degree to which the activity is self-determined. It is not intended to be a "stage theory" in that an individual progresses through them. Instead, this theory shows a correlation between the degree to which an activity is self-determined and the type of motivation that is associated[1] .

Non-self Determined

Activities that are not self-determined to any degree have a locus of causality that is impersonal. This will result in a state of amotivation[2] .

Partially Self-Determined

Most activities would fall under this umbrella. These behaviors are all extrinsically motivated. The locus of causality of these activities varies between completely external and internal[3] .

Table 1:
Organismic Integration Theory illustrated[4] .
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External Regulation

These are considered the least autonomous type of tasks. Feelings of autonomy are largely absent in the context of external regulation. Furthermore, the external rewards will not be internalized at all[5] .

Introjected Regulation

The authors characterize introjected regulation as types of behaviors, which are performed in order to avoid a sense of shame or guilt, and are ultimately "based in contingent self-esteem." The research finds that when measuring intrinsic motivation and the effect of introjection, introjection is found to be an incredibly controlling form of regulation. At this point, the regulations have become internalized to a degree, but are far from fully being internalized[6] .

Identified Regulation

In the context of identified regulation, an individual begins to identify and "accept the underlying value of a behavior." At this point, an individual may be experiencing a degree of autonomy and competence. Most importantly, at this stage an individual experiences a substantial degree of relatedness, because the regulation is beginning to come in line with socially reinforced values[7] .

Integrated Regulation

Integrated regulation is the most autonomous type of external regulation. Motivation from integrated regulation also functions most similarly to intrinsic motivation. The feeling of autonomy is the result of regulations and identifications that have been "brought into congruence with the personally endorsed values, goals, and needs that are already a part of the self." This behavior seems highly autonomous, but ultimately is still extrinsically motivated, because it is performed in order to produce a "separable outcome;" it is not undertaken because it is necessarily inherently interesting[8] .

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is considered the purest form of motivation in SDT, and it is what all other forms of motivations are measured against. Only behaviors that are completely self-determined can be considered truly intrinsically motivated. In this context, the participant is fully autonomous. The activity will be reinforcing the participant's desire for competence, and the activity will naturally be completely in line with the individual's values[9] .

Further Reading

Click here for an annotated bibliography of SDT literature.
  1. ^ Deci, E. L., & Gagné, M. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of organizational behavior , 26 (4), pp. 331-362.
  2. ^ Deci, E. L., & Gagné, M. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of organizational behavior , 26 (4), pp. 331-362.
  3. ^ Deci, E. L., & Gagné, M. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of organizational behavior , 26 (4), pp. 331-362.
  4. ^ Deci, E. L., & Gagné, M. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of organizational behavior , 26 (4), pp. 331-362.
  5. ^ Deci, E. L., & Gagné, M. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of organizational behavior , 26 (4), pp. 331-362.
  6. ^ Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2002). An overview of self-determination theory: An organismic-dialectical perspective. In E. L. Deci, & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of Self-Determination Research. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.
  7. ^ Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The "what" and "why" of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry , 11 (4), pp. 227-268.
  8. ^ Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2002). An overview of self-determination theory: An organismic-dialectical perspective. In E. L. Deci, & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of Self-Determination Research. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.
  9. ^ Deci, E. L., & Gagné, M. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of organizational behavior , 26 (4), pp. 331-362.