An analysis of a hypothesized model of EFL students' motivation based on self-determination theory

Junko Otoshi, Neil Heffernan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


The present study focuses explicitly on how the three psychological needs of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) - autonomy, relatedness and competence - were determinants of the intrinsic motivation of two groups of students: 203 English majors and 82 business majors. Since intrinsic motivation is an independent pole in which all three psychological needs have strong relationships, and demonstrates the most autonomous conditions on the intrinsic/extrinsic motivation continuum in SDT, this study explicitly focused on intrinsic motivation. The results reveal that the three psychological needs have a different causal relationship with intrinsic motivation depending on majors. While relatedness and competence displayed a substantial influence on intrinsic motivation in the English majors, only competence showed a statistically significant influence on intrinsic motivation in business majors. Also, autonomy did not display a causal relationship with intrinsic motivation in either group. Furthermore, TOEIC scores were statistically affected by intrinsic motivation and competence only in the English majors. From these results, it is suggested that language teachers should undertake activities to improve the language skills of EFL college students while incorporating more communicative approaches and cultivating a clear reason for them to study English.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-86
Number of pages21
JournalAsian EFL Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011



  • Different majors
  • Motivation
  • Psychological needs
  • Self-Determination Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics

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