Testing a Continuum Structure of Self-Determined Motivation: A Meta-Analysis

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Abstract

Self-determination theory proposes a multidimensional representation of motivation comprised of several factors said to fall along a continuum of relative autonomy. The current meta-analysis examined the relationships between these motivation factors in order to demonstrate how reliably they conformed to a predictable continuum-like pattern. Based on data from 486 samples representing over 205,000 participants who completed 1 of 13 validated motivation scales, the results largely supported a continuum-like structure of motivation and indicate that self-determination is central in explaining human motivation. Further examination of heterogeneity indicated that while regulations were predictably ordered across domains and scales, the exact distance between subscales varied across samples in a way that was not explainable by a set of moderators. Results did not support the inclusion of integrated regulation or the 3 subscales of intrinsic motivation (i.e., intrinsic motivation to know, to experience stimulation, and to achieve) due to excessively high interfactor correlations and overlapping confidence intervals. Recommendations for scale refinements and the scoring of motivation are provided.

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