Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Defining Intrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is defined as your internal drive or desire to do a particular action since it gives you pleasure, it is morally correct or it is something you consider important. There is no universal explanation as to why people are motivated intrinsically but there are a few determinants which may have led to the development of motivation then behavior and thought.

Control over the situation. You may engage in an activity because you know that you can control the result or outcome. For example, if you’re good at basketball then it’s very likely that it will be your favorite sport. You feel that you have control over the situation and the outcome of winning or gaining the advantage over your opponents thus develops an internal drive to play.

1. Development of a plan of action. This is greatly related to control over the situation. You are more likely to feel at ease in an environment where you have a wide choice of actions. Creativity and drama enter the picture since you have the ability to do more than what the situation requires. The outcome depends on your ability and plan.

2. Mastery of the subject matter. At this point, you are not merely aiming to accomplish the goal but to accomplish the goal with prestige and grace. The intrinsic motivation is your experience and knowledge about the action which you are motivated to master instead of simply learning.

3. Importance, morality or curiosity. These three things are also factors that can trigger intrinsic motivation. You feel the necessity to do an action since you have been programmed or have personally realized that the outcome is important or morally significant. How you view an action or behavior as important or morally correct depends on your own personal experience and understanding. Also, you may be facing a situation for the first time or have long been wondering about an outcome, and so you engage in an activity to satisfy your curiosity.

Another definition of intrinsic motivation is the engagement in an activity without external inducement. Intrinsic motivation takes away external factors and determinants which may have led the person into an action or behavior. Reward or punishment is eliminated but keep in mind that there is still the presence of stimuli which may be innate or environmental.

Reward is not the same thing as the pleasure and satisfaction derived from an activity or behavior. An intrinsically motivated person is not subject to reward but only to the meaning and feelings derived from the action or behavior itself while an extrinsically motivated person is dependent on the reward for a successful outcome.

If the reward is removed, it is likely that an extrinsically motivated person will cease the activity or behavior regardless of which stage he is in, but an intrinsically motivated person aims for development thus cherishes each stage of the entire activity. However, both are still goal-oriented.

Defining Extrinsic Motivation
Extrinsic motivation is defined as your engagement in an action or thought driven by external factors such as reward, punishment or pressure. On most occasions, extrinsic motivation is contractual and has limited and temporary qualities in the sense that the person will only continue to do the action or maintain the behavior as long as the promise of an exchange is present.

An extrinsically motivated person does not necessarily enjoy the activity but is merely driven by the environmental factors or stimuli that spurred him to act.

Extrinsic motivation is very common in the classroom and has long been used by teachers in the learning process. Students learn or force themselves to become interested and gain knowledge about classroom topics with the reward of recognition or good grades or the punishment of failing marks or embarrassment. It is a tool used by several companies as well. Airline companies give air miles, stores give discounts and offices give salary bonuses.

On the other hand, incompetent employees can be suspended, demoted or fired.

Here are some ways that extrinsic motivation can be used effectively.

1. Clearly explain the goal and process. You have to be objective and provide full information regarding the things you want done and how you want them done.

2. Clearly provide the external factors. Enumerate the advantages of accomplishing the task and the disadvantages of failing the task.

Remember that the motivation to act or behave is dependent on the external factor you have provided. There is a contractual relationship between the person who is expected to respond and the person who provides the reward or punishment for the response. As long as the person obliges and is motivated by the external factor, he is under the control of the provider.

The extrinsically motivated person may cease to act or behave as directed by the provider of the reward or punishment if the following situations occur:

1. The goal has been achieved. If the person has successfully accomplished the given task, the provider is expected to fulfill his end of the bargain and give the necessary reward due.

2. The external factor has diminished value or been rendered obsolete. If the reward or punishment suddenly becomes inapplicable to the actions and efforts done by the extrinsically motivated person, he may choose to cease the activity since it no longer benefits him.

3. The action, behavior and goal have been internalized. If the extrinsically motivated person derives meaning or finds pleasure from the activity during the process, he may continue to act. This time however, he no longer expects any external advantage, thus removing himself and his actions from the provider’s control.

Extrinsic motivation is a means to an end. It is a crude but effective strategy used widely in many areas. It may occur positively in the form of tangible rewards and benefits as well as negatively through threats of punishment. This doesn’t mean that extrinsic motivation is bad compared to intrinsic motivation. They are both using different methods and levels of understanding but the objective of achieving a goal is always present.


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