Wehmeyer et al. - A Functional Model of Self-Determination

The Structure of Concern Project compares many theoretical models from many disciplines to the Adizes PAEI model, arguing that they must all be reflecting the same underlying phenomenon. One concern structure model is described below.

Wehmeyer’s research focuses on defining self-determination and how it can be studied and promoted for people with developmental handicaps. Building upon Angyal (1941) and Deci et al. (1985), Wehmeyer et al. (2001) construct a model of the components of self-determined behaviour, so that these skills can be trained and taught in schools. They define four essential functions that produce self-determined behaviour.

P – Behavioral Autonomy: Individuated behaviour guided by personal preferences, not requiring much guidance or support from others, free from undue external influence or interference.

A – Self-Regulation: The capacity to manage events by monitoring self and world, making plans and decisions on how to act, evaluating outcomes and revising/improving plans, self-instruction, self-reinforcement and self-governance.

E – Self-Realization: Most generally the “tendency to shape one’s life into a meaningful whole” ((Angyal, 1941), p. 165) self-realization involves using a strong and syncretic (and largely accurate) knowledge of one’s preferences, strengths and limitations to produce better outcomes. This sense of self forms with experience, and is influenced by learning, self-analysis and interactions with others.

I – Psychological Empowerment: Belief in oneself and in the value of one’s goals. “Learned hopefulness.” Derived from community psychology, it arises from experiences of success reaching personal goals and enables people to achieve socially positive outcomes in the community.

1. Wehmeyer, M. L. (2001). “Self-Determination and Mental Retardation: Assembling the puzzle pieces.” In H. N. Switzky (Editor), Personality and Motivational Differences in Persons with Mental Retardation (pp. 147-198). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.
2. Angyal, A. (1941). Foundations for a science of personality. New York: Commonwealth Fund.
3. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.
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