Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is one of the two types of motivation, which are:

In contrast to Intrinsic Motivation, which in short – refers to self-motivation or motivation from within, Extrinsic Motivation refers to action or behavior performed in the hopes of receiving an external reward or outcome. This form of motivation differs from intrinsic motivation in the way it works, its effects, advantages and disadvantages.


Whenever an individual performs an action or behavior because the individual is affected by the eternal factors such as rewards or punishments, such form of motivation is called extrinsic motivation. Whenever a person is motivated by external factors, whether to avoid negative consequences or to achieve positive outcomes, it is wholly considered to be extrinsic motivation.

There can be numerous causes of extrinsic motivation. Some of the most common needs (external factors) that lead a person to do certain things are

  • Money
  • Praise
  • Competition
  • Threat of a punishment

Example 1: From the example of the Sherlock Holmes in the Intrinsic Motivation, if Sherlock Holmes solved cases for money and/or fame; that would be an example of extrinsic motivation.

Example 2: A student attends guitar classes because his parents promise to double his allowance money.

The classic example of extrinsic motivation applies to most of us normal folks. Most folks working 9 to 5 job are unmoved and don’t even care about their personal interests or happiness regarding the job. They work because they get paid for it. Things like happiness are irrelevant for most working class men and women.


  • Extrinsic incentives can be used to motivate a whole group, thus increasing productivity in workplace or creating a better learning environment in classrooms.
  • Extrinsic incentives lead to individual benefits. These motivations can lead to behavior, which would have never been possible otherwise. Example: A student might never feel the intrinsic motivation to study, but external factors like medals or other forms of prize might motivate the student to study harder.


  • Some extrinsic motivations have been known to down the intrinsic motivation in an individual. This could interfere with a person’s happiness.
  • Folks who spend their whole life chasing rewards at work often retire only to regret the things they missed in life.