In last week’s post, we established that dropping out of a Ph.D. (or thinking about it) is surprisingly common, and we saw demographic and socio-economic factors that seem related to doctoral attrition. In this post, I dive into another strand of research that relates doctoral dropout with a general theory of human motivation: self-determination theory. This research helps explain why you may persist and finish your doctorate (and even have fun doing it), despite having such socio-economic factors playing against you. Or vice-versa. The post also gleans practical advice from the literature on doctoral attrition, in the hope of helping students and supervisors avoid this common pitfall.