Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation theories

Internal motivation arises when we act without obvious external rewards, while external motivation motivates people from outside. Learn more about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation theories. 

We enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn and realize our potential.

What is your motivation for reading this article? If you are reading it because you are interested in psychology and want to know more about inspiration, you act based on your motivation. On the other hand, if you are reading this because you need to learn the information and avoid getting a bad grade, you act based on external motivation.

The power of inner motivation

When you engage in an activity of pure pleasure, you do so because you are motivating. Motivation to participate arises from within and not from a desire to achieve external rewards such as prizes, money, or recognition. Of course, this does not mean that self-motivated behavior does not have its tips, and these rewards include creating positive emotions in the individual.

The effect of external rewards

Researchers have discovered that offering external rewards for an already rewarding activity can make a move less rewarding. People can be more creative when they are motivated.

In companies, for example, productivity can be increased by using external rewards as a bonus. However, the actual quality of work performed is affected by internal factors. If you do something you find rewarding, engaging, and challenging, you are more likely to develop new ideas and creative solutions.

Factors that can increase self-motivation

  • Challenge: People are more motivated when the goal is possible but not sure.
  • Cooperation and competition: Internal motivation can be increased in situations where people are satisfied with helping others. This also applies to cases where they can compare their own performance with that of others.
  • Recognition: People like to have their achievements recognized by others, which can increase their inner motivation.

What is extrinsic motivation?

Let’s find out what external motivation is and how it works. External motivation (also known as extrinsic motivation) does not mean that we do anything to achieve inner fulfillment (inner motivation) but achieve a reward or avoid punishment. It can feel like more of a commitment than an activity that will give you joy or fulfillment. External motivation motivates people from outside. An example is a student who does his homework because they fear parental sanctions, extrinsically motivated. 

How well does external motivation work?

It seems that inherent incentives are the winner, no doubt, but this does not mean that external rewards are ineffective. External motivation can be compelling when used correctly.

First, external motivators are exposed to the so-called hedonic treadmill. Research tells us that if you get more money, a new car, or another external reward, the good feeling has a very short lifespan. 

Some research confirms that our performance, perseverance, and creativity are not as good as with the inner motivators when we are externally driven. It probably has to do with the “will” versus “must” state of mind. You start with a different mindset, and you end up with a different result.

Finally, studies tell us that external motivation can disrupt the internal and reduce it. There is a phenomenon called the “over-adjustment effect.” Put, if you enjoyed doing something and began to be rewarded for it, your inner drive to do so will gradually go down.

Regardless, external motivators can still get you to act. After all, not everything you do can be delightful and satisfying, right? But if you need to accomplish something you may not quite want to do, external rewards can often push you through the extra mile you need to reach the goal, especially when it comes to areas of academia (think grades) and work (work). Salary and recognition).

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