Difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation with examples

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation have great influence on human behavior. Each person predominates more than one and knowing that can help increase motivation.

Motivation is the cause that leads a human being to behave or act in a specific circumstance in one way and not in another.

According to certain authors of the psychological discipline, there are several different theories or assumptions about the way in which motivation is given. This classification addresses the incentive caused by the act.

The type of motivation varies according to the origin of the impulses that lead us to approach specific objectives and not others, in addition to depending on the incentives obtained in exchange for the activity performed.

In the case of extrinsic motivation, these impulses, causes or rewards of acts have to do with factors in the external world. On the other hand, if one speaks of intrinsic motivation, it is because these aspects have to do with one’s own interest in the task being performed or with the goals of the individual performing the action.

The concept of reward is especially important, because when a human being performs an activity or behaves in a specific way, he can expect to receive something in return or enjoy that task for himself.

Depending on how this person behaves, it is possible to know whether the factors that gave rise to this behavior are external or internal. That is, one can distinguish whether this act is related to an intrinsic or extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation Definition and examples

The concept of intrinsic motivation is framed in the Self-Determination Theory of the 1970s. This theory was proposed and developed by psychologists and professors Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan and focuses on the motivation behind human choices that are not conditioned. by external factors.

According to this hypothesis, there are innate psychological needs in man that lead him to behave in a certain way, without the need for an external incentive to motivate that behavior.

Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci define intrinsic motivation as the “human being’s inherent tendency to go out in search of novelties and challenges to expand and exercise one’s capacity to explore and learn”.

Therefore, the only goal or reward sought with intrinsically motivated activities is the inner development of oneself, whether discovering things that were not known, acquiring knowledge or surpassing some qualities.

The concept of intrinsic motivation is of great importance to developmental psychology. Oudeyer, Kaplan and Hafner, in a 2007 article, state that exploratory activities, typical of the type of motivation we are talking about, are crucial in child development. And, as several investigations have shown, intrinsic motivation is closely related to cognitive and social progress.

In this type of motivation, the activity performed is a form of pleasure in itself.

However, intrinsic motivation can be encouraged through some external elements, although care needs to be taken with which ones are used, as they can also produce the opposite effect.

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The Parents of Self-Determination Theory produced a review of 128 studies on the effects that external rewards had on intrinsic motivation.

They concluded that tangible external rewards decreased internal motivation, while other intangible factors such as positive feedback increased it. On the other hand, negative feedback also helped to reduce it.

On the other hand, external incentives can reduce the self-esteem generated by intrinsic motivation.

Some examples of intrinsic motivation

In intrinsic motivation, the person performing the act finds the reward in himself.

The following examples of intrinsic motivation extrapolated to real life will help you understand this concept better:

– Attend English classes to improve your ability to speak languages.

– Go to the gym to reduce stress and anxiety levels and feel better about yourself, mentally speaking.

– Spend time with your family because you enjoy their company.

– Going out for drinks with your friends, because you have fun.

– Join a voluntary or solidary cause because you feel comforted.

In all these cases, the possible rewards that lead us to carry out these activities are within you, your emotions and generate a personal satisfaction that cannot be obtained outside.

Extrinsic motivation. Definition and examples

According to Ryan and Deci (1999), extrinsic motivation refers to the activities performed to obtain an instrument that can be separated from this task.

The end is no longer in personal satisfaction or in the pleasure of the activity itself, but an external reward is expected.

Extrinsic motivation can occur autonomously or not, depending on the individual’s ability to choose, as there are extrinsically motivated activities that can occur as a consequence of external control.

In this sense, Ryan and Deci propose two examples to distinguish the cases of extrinsic motivation chosen by the individual and those given by external pressure. For example, a young student who studies and does his homework does not act with the same autonomy for fear of the parents’ reaction to his results, as another young man who strives in his studies to attend a university of greater academic prestige.

The action is the same and the two rewards are external, but in the second case the choice made by the student enjoys more autonomy.

Ryan and Déci, within their theory of self-determination, establish a second hypothesis to explain the way in which extrinsically motivated behavior occurs.

This assumption is called the Theory of Integration of Organisms. It is here that the two authors classify the types of external motivation according to the autonomy or capacity for choice that the individual has, which we exemplified earlier. There are four types of extrinsic motivation.

– Externally regulated behavior: it is the least autonomous form of extrinsic motivation. Behaviors of this type are based solely on reward, encouragement or external pressure.

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– Introjected regulation: in this case, the cause that originates the behavior is external, but the individual at the time of carrying out the activity aims to increase self-esteem, reduce the feeling of guilt or worry.

– Regulation by identification: in this type of behavior, the individual previously analyzes the objectives or rewards imposed externally and understands that they are important to him.

– Integrated Regulation: it is the most autonomous form of extrinsic motivation. In this type of regulation, the person assumes in his behavior the external incentives as if they were his own. This stage differs from extrinsic motivation in that the goals to be achieved do not belong to the individual’s internal capabilities, but remain external.

Some real examples of extrinsic motivation

– Work in an office where the level of demand and stress is very high, as you will get improvements in your resume, promote in the future and opt for a more relaxed position.

– Dieting and going to a gym to lose weight, because that’s what is well regarded by society or fashion.

– Study a subject you don’t like, getting good overall grades or because, with that subject, you can opt for a job with better conditions than with the subjects that really interest you by vocation.

– Perform an activity, eg take the room, in exchange for getting parental permission to attend a party. This example is very common in the domestic environment when there are children or teenagers.

– Take extra hours at work to obtain greater economic reward or to obtain a specific material gift or incentive offered by the company.

Key Differences

Below are the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

  1. Intrinsic motivation seeks intangible, personal rewards.
  2. Extrinsic motivation is one that leads us to seek tangible rewards.
  3. Extrinsic motivation induces interest and participation in something in which the individual had no interest.
  4. Intrinsic motivation comes from the individual.
  5. Intrinsic motivation makes people stay interested in something for longer.
  6. Extrinsic motivation comes from the outside, it can be rewards or punishments that promote or avoid certain attitudes and actions.
  7. Extrinsic motivation only keeps you interested in something for a short time. Even if rewards are offered for something in which the individual is intrinsically motivated, it can lead to lose interest in the activity that generated satisfaction.

Tips to increase motivation

have self-confidence

Motivation is directly linked to self-confidence. A person who does not trust himself will not have the security to do things because of his fear of making mistakes, being judged, rejected or ridiculed. The tip is to study your individual potential, strengths and virtues, in order to increase your confidence and willingness to give your best in every situation.

Discover what makes you happy

Staying motivated requires self-knowledge. People have different needs and, consequently, are motivated by different reasons. Being aware of what brings happiness to your life and what your dreams and goals are is essential to stay motivated in the face of situations and challenges that arise along the way.

infect others

Motivated people are able to bring motivation to those around them. In a corporate environment, when employees are aligned and with the same goals and purposes, competitions, unnecessary conflicts and ego disputes naturally end up being sidelined.

Extrinsic or intrinsic motivation: which is better?

Wouldn’t it be a dream if, in your company, employees were motivated simply by the pleasure of doing the work? What if they were doing what they do out of an inherent interest in their tasks?

In real life, it is almost impossible for such behavior to exist. But don’t worry – that’s not bad! In fact, most people are motivated by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

The art of a good manager is to know how to make decisions based on these two motivational levers, in order to lead employees to achieve their goals in the most profitable way for themselves and for the company!

We hope you have noted the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

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