A Self-Determination Theory Approach to Work Motivation of Autistic Adults: A Qualitative Exploratory Study

Yael Goldfarb, Ofer Golan, Eynat Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The study explores work motivation of autistic adults through the lens of Self-Determination Theory (SDT). Twelve autistic employees (ages 28–47; 3 females) participated in semi-structured qualitative interviews about their work experience. Analysis combined inductive and deductive approaches, identifying motivational themes emerging from the interviews, and analyzing them according to SDT concepts. Two major themes emerged: (1) work motivation factors positioned on the self-determination continuum: income and self-reliance; a daily routine; social/familial internalized norms; meaning and contribution; and job interest; and (2) satisfaction of psychological needs at work, postulated by SDT: competence, social-relatedness, and autonomy and structure. Findings are discussed in relation to current literature, and practical applications are suggested for meeting the motivational needs of autistic employees and promoting employment stability.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1529-1542
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Volume53
Issue number4
Early online date14 Jul 2021
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Autism spectrum
  • Autistic adults
  • Autonomy
  • Employees
  • Employment
  • Employment interviews
  • Internalization
  • Interviews
  • Medical Sciences--Psychiatry And Neurology
  • Motivation
  • Psychological needs
  • Qualitative research
  • Relatedness
  • Self determination
  • Self-determination
  • Self-determination theory
  • Social meaning
  • Work experience
  • Work motivation

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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