Motivation to Change in Eating Disorder Patients: A Conceptual Clarification on the Basis of Self-Determination Theory


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Abstract

Objective:The current study critically reviews the different motivational frameworks that are applied in the study of eating disorders and provides a more comprehensive conceptualization of motivation to change on the basis of self-determination theory.Method:The most important conceptualizations of motivation to change among eating disorder patients are identified.Results:Eating disorder patients' motivation to change has been defined very differently, adding confusion to the field and preventing research from being cumulative. On the basis of self-determination theory we argue (a) that the quality of motivation to change is primarily reflected in the degree of internalization of change rather than by the intrinsic motivation to change; (b) that the internalization of change suggests more than only the change being initiated from within the person (internal motivation) for it requires an acceptance of the personal importance of change; and (c) that, in addition to its quality, the quantity of motivation to change should be considered too.Discussion:These three conceptual issues are applied to the study of motivational dynamics in eating-disordered patients. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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