Richard M. Ryan, Ph.D.

Richard Ryan and Edward Deci co-founded self-determination theory, a “macro-theory of human motivation concerned with the development and functioning of personality within social contexts” (University of Rochester, 2008).  Cognitive evaluation theory, one of the four mini-theories that make up self-determination theory, addresses intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in social contexts (University of Rochester, 2008).  

Ryan co-authored a number of seminal books and papers that defined, outlined, and explained the concept of intrinsic motivation, such as the influential publication Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behaviour (Deci & Ryan, 1985).  Deci and Ryan also put together the Handbook of Self-Determination Research (University of Rochester Press, 2004), a summary of the theories, relevance of, and research on self-determination, with contributions, including current research, from prominent scholars across 18 universities.  Ryan’s theoretical contributions to the field of motivation make him an eminent scholar in the area of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Currently, Ryan is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal: Motivation & Emotion.  He is also a clinical faculty member at the University of Rochester, where he is a Professor in the faculties of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Education.  Additionally, Ryan is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of New York.  Among other issues, Ryan’s research interests include human motivation in social contexts, and the facilitation and undermining of intrinsic motivation and self-determination. He is also studying the applications of motivational research in domains such as education, health care, and virtual environments (University of Rochester, 2008).

© Rose Atkins 2009