Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology and education at the University of Rochester and co-founder of a leading theory of human motivation, was presented an honorary doctorate by the University of Thessaly in Greece this week.
The award recognizes Ryan's "significant contribution in the field of psychology, human behavior, and well-being worldwide." The honor was presented at a ceremony in Volos, Greece, on Oct. 16.
Ryan and fellow Rochester psychology professor Edward Deci developed in the 1980s Self-Determination Theory—a basic theory of human motivation. At the heart of the theory is the principle that well-being depends in large part on meeting one's psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness.
The psychological model has proven widely applicable cross-culturally and in a variety of fields, including health care, parenting, mental health, work organizations, and athletic settings. This honorary degree, presented by the University of Thessaly's departments of physical education, primary education, preschool education, and special education, reflects Ryan's influence internationally and across disciplines.
A widely published researcher and theorist, Ryan has authored more than 250 articles, chapters, and books. His research has been supported by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the United States–Israel Binational Science Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. He has given addresses at more than 70 universities worldwide and is a fellow of several professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, the Society for Self and Identity, and the Society for Experimental Social Psychology. In 2008, he was awarded honorary membership in the German Psychological Society. Ryan has received James McKeen Cattell and Leverhulme fellowships, as well as other research and teaching awards.
In addition to his theoretical contributions, Ryan is a practicing therapist and director of clinical training at Rochester. He joined the psychology department in 1981, after completing his doctorate in clinical psychology at Rochester. He has held a joint appointment in psychiatry and education since 2004.