Why being morally virtuous enhances well-being: A Self-Determination Theory approach

The Journal of Moral Education 52 (3):362-378 (forthcoming)
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Self-determination theory, like other psychological theories that study eudaimomia, focuses on general processes of growth and self-realization. An aspect that tends to be sidelined in the relevant literature is virtue. We propose that special focus needs to be placed on moral virtue and its development. We review different types of moral motivation and argue that morally virtuous behavior is regulated through integrated regulation. We describe the process of moral integration and how it relates to the development of moral virtue. We then discuss what morally virtuous individuals are like, what shape their internal moral system is expected to take and introduce moral self-concordance. We consider why morally virtuous individuals are expected to experience eudaimonic well-being. Finally, we address the current gap in self-determination theory research on eudaimonia.

Author Profiles

Alexios Arvanitis
University of Crete
Matt Stichter
Washington State University


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