Professor Richard M. Ryan

Professor Richard M. Ryan

Professorial Fellow
Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

Areas of expertise: self-determination theory; intrinsic motivation; social development; happiness and well-being; goal pursuits; education; health and wellness; organizational behavior; technology experiences; political and economic influences

HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Full

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-2355-6154


Location: ACU North Sydney Campus

Richard M. Ryan, Ph.D., is a Professor at the Institute for Positive Psychology & Education at the Australian Catholic University and Professor Emeritus in Psychology at the University of Rochester in New York. Ryan is a clinical psychologist and co-developer of Self-Determination Theory, one of the leading theories of human motivation. With over 450 scientific papers and books in the areas of human motivation, personality, and psychological well-being, Ryan is among the most cited and influential researchers in psychology and social sciences today. Reflective of Ryan's influence internationally, he has been recognized as one of the eminent psychologists of the modern era, and The Australian recently listed him on the Lifetime Achievers Leaderboard as one of Australia’s top 40 researchers.

Ryan has lectured in more than 100 universities worldwide, and consulted with numerous organizations, schools, clinics, and health-care initiatives. Recipient of distinguished career awards from multiple societies for his contributions to the field on motivation, personal meaning, and self and identity, Ryan is also a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, and an Honorary Member of the German Psychological Society (DGP). He has held numerous editorial posts, including having been Editor-in-Chief of Motivation & Emotion. He has also been a James McKeen Cattell and Leverhulme Fellow, and a visiting scientist at the National Institute of Education in Singapore, the University of Bath, UK, and the Max Planck Institute, Berlin.

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Recent publications

  • Ryan, R. M., Deci, E. L., Vansteenkiste, M., Soenens, B. (2021). Building a science of motivated persons: Self-determination theory’s empirical approach to human experience and the regulation of behavior. Motivation Science.
  • Legate, N., Weinstein, N., Ryan, R. M. (2021). Ostracism in real life: Evidence that ostracizing others has costs, even when it feels justified. Basic and Applied Social Psychology.
  • Howard, J. L., Bureau, J. S., Guay, F., Chong, J. X. Y., & Ryan, R. M. (2021). Student motivation and associated outcomes: A meta-analysis from self-determination theory. Perspectives on Psychological Science.
  • Martela, F., Hankonen, N., Ryan, R. M., Vansteenkiste, M. (2021). Motivating voluntary compliance to behavioural restrictions: Self-determination theory-based checklist of principles for COVID-19 and other emergency communications. European Review of Social Psychology.
  • Ryan, R. M., Donald, J. N., & Bradshaw, E. L. (2021). Mindfulness and motivation: A process view using self-determination theory. Current Directions in Psychological Science.
  • Martela, F., & Ryan, R. M. (2021). If giving money to the Red Cross increases well-being, does taking money from the Red Cross increase ill-being? Evidence from three experiments. Journal of Research in Personality.
  • Bradshaw, E. L., Sahdra, B. K., Ciarrochi, J., Parker, P. D., Martos, T., & Ryan, R. M. (2021). A configural approach to aspirations: The social breadth of aspiration profiles predicts well-being over and above the intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations that comprise the profiles. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
  • Ntoumanis, N., Ng, J. Y.Y., Prestwich, A…Ryan, R. M., Lonsdale, C., & Williams, G. C. (2021). A meta-analysis of self-determination theory-informed intervention studies in the health domain: effects on motivation, health behavior, physical, and psychological health. Health Psychology Review.
  • Vermote, B., Waterschoot, J…Ryan, R. M., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2021). Do psychological needs play a role in times of uncertainty? Associations with well-being during the COVID-19 crisis. Journal of Happiness Studies.
  • Gleeson, J. F. M., Eleftheriadis, D...Ryan, R. M., Alvarez-Jimenez, M. (2020). Positive and meaningful lives: Systematic review and meta‐analysis of eudaimonic well‐being in first‐episode psychosis. Early Intervention in Psychiatry.
  • Conigrave, J. H., Bradshaw, E. L., Conigrave, K. M., Ryan, R. M., Wilson, S., Perry, J., Doyle, M. F., & Lee, K. S. K. (2021). Alcohol consumption and dependence is linked to the extent that people experience need satisfaction while drinking alcohol in two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Addiction Science and Clinical Practice.
  • Quirin, M., Jais, M., Di Domenico, S. I., Kuhl, J., & Ryan, R. M. (2021). Effortless willpower? The integrative self and self-determined goal pursuit. Frontiers in Psychology.
  • Nishimura, T., Bradshaw, E. L., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2021). Satisfaction of basic psychological needs in an interdependence model of father’s own aspirations and those of their adolescent children. Social Development.
  • Bradshaw, E. L., Ryan, R. M., Noetel, M., Saeri, A, K., Slattery, P., Grundy, E., & Calvo, R. A. (2021). Information safety assurances increase intentions to use COVID-19 contact tracing applications, regardless of autonomy-supportive or controlling message framing. Frontiers in Psychology.
  • Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2020). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation from a self-determination theory perspective: Definitions, theory, practices, and future directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology.
  • Donald, J. N., Bradshaw, E. L., Ryan, R. M., Basarkod, G., Ciarrochi, J., Duineveld, J. J., Guo, J., & Sahdra, B. K. (2020). Mindfulness and its association with varied types of motivation: A systematic review and meta-analysis using self-determination theory. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
  • Calvo, R. A., Deterding, S., & Ryan, R. M. (2020). Health surveillance during covid-19 pandemic. British Medical Journal.
  • Teixeira, P. J., Marques, M. M., Silva, M. N., Brunet, J., Duda, J. L., Haerens, L., La Guardia, J., Lindwall, M., Lonsdale, C., Markland, D., Michie, S., Moller, A. C., Ntoumanis, N., Patrick, H., Reeve, J., Ryan, R. M., Sebire, S. J., Standage, M., Vansteenkiste, M., . . . Hagger, M. S. (2020). A classification of motivation and behavior change techniques used in self-determination theory-based interventions in health contexts. Motivation Science.
  • Kadir, M. S., Yeung, A. S., Ryan, R. M., Forbes, A., & Diallo, T. M. O. (2020). Effects of a dual-approach instruction on students’ science achievement and motivation. Educational Psychology Review.
  • Curren, R., & Ryan, R. M. (2020). Moral self-determination: The nature, existence, and formation of moral motivation. Journal of Moral Education.
  • Vasconcellos, D., Parker, P. D., Hilland, T., Cinelli, R., Owen, K. B., Kapsal, N., …Ryan, R. M. & Lonsdale, C. (2020). Self-determination theory applied to physical education: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology.
  • Vansteenkiste, M., Ryan, R. M., & Soenens, B. (2020). Basic psychological need theory: Advancements, critical themes, and future directions. Motivation and Emotion, 44, 1-31.
  • Martela, F., & Ryan, R. M. (2020). Distinguishing between basic psychological needs and basic wellness enhancers: The case of beneficence as a candidate psychological need. Motivation and Emotion.

Recent books

  • Ryan, R. M. & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. Guilford Publishing.
  • Ryan, R. M. (Ed.). (2019). The Oxford handbook of motivation (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.


  • Engaging in on-going theoretical and applied research in Self-Determination Theory.

Accolades and awards

Research and writing

  • Honorary Professor, Northeast Normal University, Changchun, China (2019
  • Honorary Professor, University of Bath, UK (2017)
  • Shavelson Distinguished Researcher and Lifetime Achievement Award, International Global SELF Research Centre (2015)
  • Distinguished Career Award, Society for Self and Identity (2014)
  • Honorary Doctorate, University of Thessaly, Greece (2012)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, International Network on Personal Meaning (2012)
  • Leverhulme Foundation Fellowship Award (2011)
  • Society of Experimental Social Psychology Dissertation Award Recipient (1982)

Teaching and service

  • University of Rochester Dean’s Award for Meritorious Service (2008)
  • Phi Delta Kappa Award for Educational Research and Leadership (2005)
  • Delta Kappa Award for Educational Research and Leadership (1995)
  • University of Rochester Student Association Teacher of the Year- Finalist (1994)
  • Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (1993)
  • University of Rochester Student Association Teacher of the Year – Finalist (1990)
  • University of Rochester Student Association Teacher of the Year – Finalist (1985)

Appointments and affiliations

Current positions

Professional affiliations

  • Fellow, American Psychological Association
  • Fellow, Association for Psychological Science
  • Fellow, Society for Experimental Social Psychology
  • Fellow, Society for Personality and Social Psychology
  • Fellow, American Educational Research Association
  • Honorary Member, German Psychological Society (DGP)
  • Member, Society for Research in Personality
  • Member, Society for Self and Identity
  • Member, Society for the Study of Motivation
  • Member, Society for Clinical and Social Psychology

Editorial roles

Past editorial offices

  • Editor-in-Chief, Motivation and Emotion
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Selected current & past consulting editorships

  • Development and Psychopathology
  • Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
  • Journal of Happiness
  • Theory and Research in Education
  • Social and Personality Compass
  • Malaysian Journal of Learning & Instruction
  • American Educational Research Journal
  • Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
  • Journal of Personality
  • Self and Identity
  • North American Journal of Psychology
  • Journal of Anthropological Psychology
  • Motivation Science

Public engagement

Richard Ryan contributes frequently to newspapers, podcasts, blogs, and television and radio programs. Below are some current media pieces.

Recent media interviews

Podcast interviews

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