Self-determination theory as an alternate conceptual foundation for motivation in natural resource research

Kyle Smith, Adam Landon, David C Fulton, Gerard Kyle

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Motivation is a topic that receives substantial interest across the social sciences. However, in the human dimensions of natural resource literature, scholars have primarily treated motivation as a construct narrowly defined by the individual’s desired goal state. In contrast, self-determination theory (SDT) suggests that multiple forms of motivation can influence levels of self-determination, integration of identities, and subsequent behavioral intentions, and has been utilized in multiple realms to understand human behavior. SDT forms a consistent and well-understood mechanism for human psychological development and optimal function and allows for the formulation of out-of-sample prediction, a cornerstone of science. In this manuscript, we review the basic theories that make up SDT and provide insight for its application to human dimensions of natural resource research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHuman Dimensions of Wildlife
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© This work was authored as part of the Contributor’s official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 USC 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under US Law.


  • Motivation
  • outdoor recreation
  • recreation experience preference
  • self-determination theory


Dive into the research topics of 'Self-determination theory as an alternate conceptual foundation for motivation in natural resource research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this