Self-determination and Positive Psychology Interventions: An Extension of the Positive Activity Model in the Context of Unemployment

  • Leoni van der VaartEmail author
  • Anja Van den Broeck


Positive psychological interventions (PPIs) are approaches, methods, and intentional activities that cultivate positive behaviours, cognitions, and emotions. PPI’s are proven to be effective and valuable, also to complement traditional interventions. Nevertheless, they are largely ignored in the context of unemployment. This chapter first contends that PPIs should be developed for and implemented in the unemployment context. PPIs are warranted in this context because they may facilitate the well-being—and therefore also indirectly alleviate the suffering—of a vulnerable population. Second, we argue that the effectiveness of PPIs can be enhanced by using theoretical frameworks, such as the self-determination theory (SDT). As an influential motivational theory, SDT provides a comprehensive framework for the mechanisms (i.e. basic psychological need satisfaction) through which well-being can be enabled. Satisfaction of the needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness could therefore serve as key foci of PPIs, but they may also provide guidance on how PPIs can be implemented to facilitate client adherence, engagement, and intervention outcomes. This chapter aims to theorise on the use of SDT and basic psychological need satisfaction to inform the content and delivery of PPIs. In doing so, the chapter contributes to the limited literature incorporating SDT principles into PPI interventions, in general, but also more specifically in the unemployment context.


Self-determination theory Basic psychological needs Need satisfaction Positive psychology Unemployment Mechanisms 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Optentia Research Focus AreaNorth-West UniversityVanderbijlparkSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Work and Organization Studies, Faculty of Economics and BusinessKULeuvenBelgium

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