Human beings have an innate need to have control over their lives, and also to feel as if the people around them facilitate the sense of control. As an anarchist, I believe that, for example, workplaces ought to be owned and run democratically by their workers, because this kind of economic arrangement, called workers self-management, meets the human needs of the workers for autonomy. It seems very unusual to suggest that meeting the innate human need for autonomy is somehow contrary to human nature when we have reason to believe that people having autonomy is associated with positive psychological outcomes. Being trained for compliance not only undermines people's autonomy but also reduces their creative and intellectual faculties. Another study found that the use of controlling teaching methods makes children more prone to helpless behavior, and this interferes with their performance. We can look further at her hierarchy affects people by considering the impact of competition on human relationships. Hierarchical systems, by their very nature, create centers of power. These centers of power may or may not be treated as scarce resources that people have to compete with each other to obtain. Indeed, capitalist societies valorize the notion that individuals ought to compete with each other for the acquisition of wealth and resources. Alfie Kohn writes,
>In the workplace, one tries to remain at friendly terms with one's colleagues, but there is guardedness, a part of the self held in reserve. Even when no rivalry exists at the moment, one never knows whom one will have to compete against next week.
Edward Deci contrasts autonomous motivation and controlled motivation as follows,
>Autonomous motivation really means to do something with a full sense of willingness, volition, endorsement of the activity. It's having a sense of "this is what I want to be doing now. This is what I choose to be doing now". The experience that goes along with what we call controlled motivation is that I'm feeling pressured and intense about it. "Those forces are operating on me and making me do this", for instance.
One study looked at the relationship between autonomous motivation, controlled motivation and the outcome of interpersonal therapy for recurrent depression. It found that,
>In the entire sample, both the therapeutic alliance and the autonomous motivation predicted higher probability of achieving remission; however, the relation differed for those with highly recurrent depression compared to those with less recurrent depression. For those with highly recurrent depression, the therapeutic alliance predicted remission whereas autonomous motivation had no effect on remission. For those with less recurrent depression, both autonomous motivation and the therapeutic alliance predicted better achieving remission. Controlled motivation emerged as a significant negative predictor of remission across both groups.
Autonomous motivation is also a predictor of something called flow. Flow describes a state in which a person becomes fully immersed and focused on an activity. They are completely engaged, they have a full and thorough appreciation for what they're doing, and this brings them intense feelings of enjoyment. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychologist, identified a number of characteristics of flow states, which includes but is not limited to,
<Complete concentration on the task
<Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback
<Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down of time)
<The experience is intrinsically rewarding, has an end itself
<Effortlessness and ease
<There is a balance between challenge and skills
<Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination
<There is a feeling of control over the task
A study looking at flow in the context of higher education found that,
>Psychology students who were autonomously motivated experienced more flow than those that exhibited controlled motivation.
Giving people autonomy meets the essential needs of humans, and this need satisfaction enhances people's capacity to fully engage themselves with what's going on and promotes mastery of activities. Conversely, when people are deprived of their autonomy, when we go through the experience of feeling like, as Edward Dici says, "forces are operating on me and making us behave in a certain way", our needs are unsatisfied, and that diminishes our capacity to engage with what's going on. For examples of this, we can look at how rewards, a simple example of imposing controlled motivation on people, "do this and you'll get that" affect us. Rewards are widely used and one of the most commonly accepted means by which authority figures exercise control over people. We have reason to believe that dangling goodies in front of people in order to behave in a certain way is inherently destructive to human nature. Rewards increase the likelihood that we will do something, but they changed the way we do it. Alfie Kohn writes,
>They offer one particular reason for doing it, sometimes displacing other possible motivations. And they change the attitude we take toward the activity.
When people are rewarded for doing something, they continue doing it for as long as the reward persists, but when the rewards run out, they lose their interest in it. For example, in 1972, a systematic review of the research looking at token economies, which dispensed rewards for acting in a certain way, found that there are numerous reports of token programs showing behavior change only while contingent token reinforcement is being delivered. Generally, removal of token reinforcement results in decrements in desirable responses, and a return to baseline or near baseline levels of performance. In other words, when the goodies stop, people lose interest.
A study looking at children's interests, in particular games when rewards were involved, found that when the reward started, the kids promptly gravitated to the games that led to a payoff. When the rewards disappeared their interest in those games dropped significantly, to the point that many were now less interested in them than were children who had never been rewarded in the first place. A review of 28 programs encouraging people to wear seat belts found that reward-based programs, which gave people prizes or cash for wearing seatbelts, were the least effective over the long haul, whereas programs without rewards were actually more effective, which was, contrary to the predictions of the authors. Rewards tend to produce temporary compliance, not behavior change that lasts beyond the reward. When in a situation where someone is saying "do this and you'll get that", our minds tend to assume that the reward is the only reason for doing the activity, hence why we lose interest as soon as the goodies stop. When we are in these conditions, we also tend to feel as if our behavior is being controlled by external forces, by getting us to think this way, rewards actively undermine our intrinsic interest in the activity at hand and our autonomous motivation. If n activity is creative, stimulating, and interesting, this will be undermined when rewards are introduced.