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Gregory Arief D. Liem

National Institute of Education,
Nanyang Technological University,

Short bio:

Gregory Arief D. Liem is an Associate Professor at Psychology and Child & Human Development Academic Group, National Institute of Education (NIE), an institute of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Arief’s research interest lies in the area of educational psychology with a special focus on student motivation and engagement. He views these substantive issues by adopting a sociocultural lens and a quantitative approach. Dr. Liem currently serves as an Associate Editor for Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology and an editorial board member for several other journals, including The Journal of Experimental Education, British Journal of Educational Psychology, and Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development. He is the editor of Research on Sociocultural Influences on Motivation and Learning book series published by Information Age Publishing (Charlotte, North Carolina).

Interdependent Self-Determined Motivation: A Complementary—but Often Sidelined—Perspective on Student Agency in WEIRD and non-WEIRD Cultures


The academic motivation literature has been replete with the work that revolves around the concept of self-determined motivation (de Charms, 2009; Ryan & Deci, 2020). This perspective is predominantly built on the independent models of the self and agency that are more pervasive among individuals in culturally individualist (Spence, 1983) and Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic or WEIRD societies (Henrich, 2020). Markus (2016) recently highlighted the need to consider student motivation from the interdependent models of the self and agency that predominantly characterize individuals in culturally collectivist and non-WEIRD societies (Thalmayer et al., 2021). Individuals in these cultures would internalize, ascribe to, and make collective goals, relational values, and group preferences as key constituents of their self. By implication, students in the collectivist and non-WEIRD traditions tend to adopt what the present paper calls the interdependent self-determined motivation. Adopting as a framework the Dynamic System Model of Role Identity (Kaplan & Garner, 2017) that covers four broad sociocultural cognitions behind motivated actions: (a) self-perceptions, (b) perceived action possibilities, (c) purpose and goals, and (d) ontological and epistemological beliefs, this paper seeks to underscore the sociocultural origin, process, and impact of student motivation rooted in the interdependent self and relational agency and highlight the importance of social roles and obligations, social norms and expectations, as well as social co-regulation and coordination in students’ academic functioning. Like its independent self-determined counterpart (Ryan & Deci, 2020), the interdependent self-determined motivation promises an equally powerful way of explaining student motivation. Aligned with the call for considering both intrapersonal and interpersonal roots and processes of motivation to arrive at a more holistic understanding of human motivation (Leary et al., 2015), the current focus on the interdependent ways of being, doing, and becoming builds a more culturally comprehensive and responsive science of student motivation and provides a culturally diversified educational psychology toolkit that benefits our understanding of student motivation across cultural boundaries. Implications for theorizing, research, and practice of the synergistic integration of the independent and interdependent models of student motivation are drawn and discussed.

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