Becoming who you are: An integrative review of self-determination theory and personality systems interactions theory

Sander L. Koole*, Caroline Schlinkert, Tobias Maldei, Nicola Baumann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


One of the enduring missions of personality science is to unravel what it takes to become a fully functioning person. In the present article, the authors address this matter from the perspectives of self-determination theory (SDT) and personality systems interactions (PSI) theory. SDT (a) is rooted in humanistic psychology; (b) has emphasized a first-person perspective on motivation and personality; (c) posits that the person, supported by the social environment, naturally moves toward growth through the satisfaction of basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. PSI theory (a) is rooted in German volition psychology; (b) has emphasized a third-person perspective on motivation and personality; and (c) posits that a fully functioning person can form and enact difficult intentions and integrate new experiences, and that such competencies are facilitated by affect regulation. The authors review empirical support for SDT and PSI theory, their convergences and divergences, and how the theories bear on recent empirical research on internalization, vitality, and achievement flow. The authors conclude that SDT and PSI theory offer complementary insights into developing a person's full potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-36
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number1
Early online date10 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Special Issue: Self‐determination theory as a unifying theory within personality psychology


European Research Council Grant Number: ERC-2011-StG_20101124 The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Preparation of this manuscript was supported by a Consolidator Grant (ERC-2011-StG_20101124) from the European Research Council.

FundersFunder number
H2020 European Research CouncilERC-2011-StG_20101124


    • human motivation
    • human self-regulation
    • personality theory


    Dive into the research topics of 'Becoming who you are: An integrative review of self-determination theory and personality systems interactions theory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this