Positive goals build positive communities: Resident Assistants and Intrinsic Motivation

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The speakers in this symposium present a collection of studies that examine Self-Determination Theory (SDT: Deci & Ryan, 1985) in a variety of new contexts. Generally, SDT attempts to explain how and why people engage in particular behaviors and the effect these processes have on personal growth and well-being. In the first talk, Smith and colleagues examine meaning in life as a possible compliment to the three needs proposed by SDT (autonomy, competence, relatedness), finding that it predicts positive daily well-being and self-evaluation, even when controlling for the three original needs. Ewell and colleagues show that the SDT tenets of motivation and need satisfaction are applicable to the job functioning of Resident Assistants in university housing, an area previously unexamined. More specifically, intrinsic motivation for being an RA significantly mediated the relationship between need satisfaction and perceptions of the importance of relationships and community, and RA confidence. Rodriguez and colleagues, in a series of three studies, extend the previous SDT findings that relationship autonomy predicts decreased defensiveness and ego involvement by demonstrating that relationship autonomy also predicts pro-relationships behaviors, such as social support provision. Finally, Hadden and colleagues combine SDT with another widely researched theory, Rusbult's Investment Model (RIM) in a meta-analysis of 8 semi-independent studies. Their results reveal that relationship autonomy moderates the roles of both alternatives and investments, but not relationship satisfaction. Positive goals build positive communities: Resident Assistants and Intrinsic Motivation