Workers in the field of development aid, particularly those involved in capacity development projects, have for some time recognized the importance of understanding the psychology of aid beneficiaries. However, there have been very few psychological studies on development aid, possibly because there are yet few tested theoretical frameworks that allow empirical research. The aim of this paper is to present a theoretical framework that would be applicable to aiding, assessing, and researching the psychology of people facing difficulties such as extreme poverty.
The framework is based on Self-Determination Theory (SDT) and also draws from behavior modification approaches. It is argued that for such people, as a prerequisite for supporting the need for autonomy, it is necessary to support the needs for competence and relatedness. Based on the modified SDT framework, aid paradigms such as conditional cash transfers (CCTs), the life improvement approach (LIA), the smallholder horticultural empowerment project (SHEP), and the freedom for enhancing empowerment (FrEE) approaches are examined, and future research directions are discussed.
Keywords: psychology of development aid, motivation, sustainable behavioral change, behavior modification, Self-Determination Theory