‘Intrinsic motivation’ refers to performing an action or behavior for the sake of enjoyment. Learn more about intrinsic motivation, how it differs from extrinsic motivation, and the factors that promote intrinsic motivation.
Imagine that you are conducting a research study on the motivation for high school students to participate in sports. You interview students in grades 9-12 and ask them what their motivation is for joining their school’s sports team.
Thirty percent of the students tell you that they joined to increase their popularity status, gain muscle and increase their chances for getting a college scholarship. The other 70% joined because they enjoy playing sports, they think sports are cool, or because they love the challenge they get from participating in sports. The reasons that the seventy percent gave are examples of intrinsic motivation.
You’ve most likely heard of motivation. Motivation is what drives you to take action. It’s your inspiration for doing something. Without motivation, you would accomplish very little.
There are two types of motivation.If you participate in school sports to boost your popularity status, gain muscle and increase your chances for getting a college scholarship as in the example above, you are extrinsically motivated to do so. Extrinsic motivation refers to performing an action or behavior in order to receive an external reward or outcome. When you are extrinsically motivated to do something, you aren’t concerned with whether or not the action is enjoyable. You are most concerned with the outcomes associated with the action.For example, those of us who are not morning people would not choose to wake up early on weekdays, but we know that if we do not wake up, then we will be late to work or school. Here we are extrinsically motivated to wake up early in order to receive the outcome of being on time.
When you do something to avoid punishment or a negative outcome, you are acting due to extrinsic motivation. For example, many high school students don’t enjoy doing their chores. However, they do them in order to avoid being grounded by their parents, to receive allowances, or for some other outcome.Intrinsic motivation is defined as performing an action or behavior because you enjoy the activity itself. Whereas acting on extrinsic motivation is done for the sake of some external outcome, the inspiration for acting on intrinsic motivation can be found in the action itself.For example, you may read books simply because you enjoy reading.
Many people have hobbies, such as collecting stamps, that they do simply because they find them pleasurable. Even though maintaining a quality collection of stamps can produce a financial gain in the future, this is not enough to motivate someone who is intrinsically motivated to collect stamps. They do it because it is something that’s fun to them, even though it has the potential to produce an external reward.
Some other examples of intrinsic motivation include:
- Spending time with your sister because you enjoy her company
- Baking cookies with your mom because baking is fun to you
- Volunteering at a local shelter because you enjoy volunteering
- Exercising because you enjoy the rush you get from working out
Factors That Enhance Intrinsic Motivation
There are seven factors that can be used in order to increase our intrinsic motivation.
- Challenge: We’re highly motivated when we’re working toward goals that are personally meaningful to us and require some amount of difficulty to achieve.
- Curiosity: Being curious about something can motivate us to take action.
- Control: We want to have control over what happens to us.
- Fantasy: Behaviors can be encouraged by the use of imagery.
- Competition: We feel satisfied when we perform better than others.
- Cooperation: We feel satisfied when we help others accomplish something.
- Recognition: We feel satisfied when we receive recognition for our accomplishments.
Motivation is what drives us to take some action.
Doing something in order to obtain a reward or prize is extrinsic motivation. Doing something for the sake of enjoyment is intrinsic motivation. There are seven factors that can enhance intrinsic motivation. They are challenge, curiosity, control, fantasy, competition, cooperation and recognition. So, the next time you run into a group of athletes, ask what their motivation is for playing sports.
Then use what you have learned in this lesson to figure out if they are extrinsically or intrinsically motivated. Who knows, maybe they are a little bit of both!
Once you are finished, you should be able to:
- Explain the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation
- List the seven factors that can enhance intrinsic motivation