11 May, 2023

What are Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation? | Video

When you learn about motivation, you will hear about ‘intrinsic motivation’ and ‘extrinsic motivation’. And you may also hear that intrinsic motivators are better than extrinsic motivators. So, what’s the difference, and is one ‘better’ than the other?

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Motivation – in the psychological context – is a desire, an impulse, or a drive to do something (or not). It manifests as if it is a force upon somebody and we often describe motivation towards some form of goal or objective.

An important role for a leader is to provide the motivation for your team to do their best work.

Different Ways to Motivate People

And there are many things that motivate human beings. Different motivators will be effective for:

  • Different people,
  • In different contexts, like home, work, or social life, and
  • At different times in our lives

A skilled leader is able to assess what will best motivate each of their followers, at the time and in the situation where they find themselves.

And, of course, motivation is harder in times of adversity, when people are, for example:

  • Exhausted
  • Stressed
  • Fearful
  • Bored
  • Antagonistic

Full (FREE) Motivation Course

I have a whole course on our sister channel, Management Courses, about motivation. It offers a wide variety of models for both ‘how’ we are motivated, and ‘what’ will motivate us.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

All the different things that can motivate us can be grouped into two categories:

  1. Extrinsic Motivators
  2. Intrinsic Motivators

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation arises from motivators that lie outside of us. The effects that drive us are outside of us.

Positive extrinsic motivators include things like:

  • Praise and recognition
  • Awards and rewards
  • Promotion
  • Remuneration

Negative extrinsic motivators include things like:

  • Reprimands and rejection
  • Penalties and fines
  • Losing a competition
  • Demotion

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation arises from internal motivators arising from emotional changes. The effects that drive us are inside of us.

Positive extrinsic motivators include things like:

  • Pride
  • Fulfillment and satisfaction
  • Enjoyment and pleasure
  • Challenge and fascination

Negative extrinsic motivators include things like:

  • Fear and anxiety
  • Hostility and dislike
  • Envy and contempt
  • Aggression or guilt

Intrinsic Motivation and Rewards

Often, we think of intrinsic motivators as being about doing things for their own sake, rather than for some kind of reward. But intrinsic motivators do give us a reward – it is just that the reward has no material value beyond our emotional state.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation: Which is Better?

It can seem like Intrinsic motivation is evidently better than Extrinsic motivation. And it is certainly true that if you offer too much external reward for an intrinsically rewarding behavior, you can reduce overall motivation.

However, each form of motivation can be helpful in the right contexts.

Avoid substantial extrinsic motivation where people will already be intrinsically motivated. Especially where this can make a pleasurable experience feel like ‘working for a reward’. But, where people are resistant, extrinsic motivators can give them the push they need. You can also use extrinsic motivators as small rewards that signal approval and act as positive feedback for desirable behaviors.

However, praise can be a reward that triggers intrinsic motivators like pride or satisfaction. And the great thing about praise is that, as a Project manager, it is one motivator that you will never run out of!

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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