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date: 17 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Self-determination is a general psychological construct within the organizing structure of theories of human agency that refers to self- (vs. other-) caused action—to people acting volitionally, based on their own will. Human agency refers to the sense of personal empowerment involving both knowing and having what it takes to achieve goals. Human agentic theories share the meta-theoretical view that organismic aspirations drive human behaviors. An organismic perspective of self-determination that views people as active contributors to, or “authors” of, their behavior, where behavior is self-regulated and goal-directed, provides a compelling foundation for examining and facilitating the degree to which people become self-determined and the impact of that on the pursuit of optimal human functioning and well-being. Further, an organismic approach to self-determination requires an explicit focus on the interface between the self and context. This chapter provides an overview of theoretical frameworks driving efforts to promote self-determination for people with disabilities, examines findings from research pertaining to self-determination and youth and adults with disabilities, and discusses intervention research in the field.

Keywords: self-determination, human agency, causal agency, self-determination theory, volitional action

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