Self-determination theory indicates that people are motivated to grow and change by innate psychological needs. The theory identifies three key psychological needs that are believed to be both innate and universal: the needs for competence, connectedness and autonomy. The concept of intrinsic motivation, or doing things purely for their own sake, plays an important role in self-determination theory.
According to self-determination theory, people need to feel the following in order to achieve psychological growth:
Competence: People need to gain mastery of tasks and learn different skills.
Connection / Relatedness: People need to experience a sense of belonging and attachment to other people.
Autonomy: People need to feel in control of their own behaviors and goals.
Deci and Ryan suggest that when people experience these three things, they become self-determined and able to be intrinsically motivated to pursue the things that interest them.