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Personal Freedom

Self Determination

7 Examples of Self Determination

Self-determination is the process by which an individual or group control their own life. This has several nuanced meanings as follows.


In the context of international law, self-determination is the principle that the people in a place have the right to determine their own political system, representation and laws without interference by outside powers. This is also known as sovereignty.

Personal Sovereignty

Personal sovereignty is the right of a person to be the sole controller of their body, mind and life. For example, the right to make your own medical choices. Personal sovereignty is a foundational human right upon which other rights and freedoms are based.


Self-efficacy is the degree to which an individual believes they influence their own results in life. An individual with low self-efficacy believes that outside forces such as society or luck are the source of life results. An individual can have the right to personal sovereignty but not use this right in any meaningful way if they believe they can't make their own choices or work for their own results.


As an individual, self-determination is a combination of self-efficacy and competence. That is to say that you may strongly believe that you control your own results but may fail to do so without some level of competence. For example, an individual may strongly believe that they have the power to become a famous musician but this may be unlikely to produce much self-determination without some level of talent.


Self-direction, or intentionality, is the ability to choose your own path in life. This is an element of self-efficacy that involves selecting your own goals and making your own plans. For example, an employee who thrives in a company despite little or no direction or support from their boss or team.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is the desire to do things for internal reasons that aren't dependent on external rewards. For example, learning out of a sense of curiosity without worrying about how this knowledge will earn you something in future. Self-determination is viewed as a source of intrinsic motivation whereby you may have more drive where you believe you influence your outcomes and are competent to do so.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is the desire to do things for external rewards such as status, grades, points, experiences or money. Self-determination is a basis for extrinsic motivation as you believe that you can work towards results in the real world.
Overview: Self Determination
Definition (1)
The right of an individual or group to control their own life.
Definition (2)
The process by which an individual or group control their own life.
Definition (3)
The power and motivation of an individual or group to control their own life.
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