Types of Motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Motivation can be defined as a reason (or reasons) which leads an individual to act in a certain way. The phenomenon of motivation isn’t limited to just humans, and occurs in every organism living. The reasons might not always be the same between two individuals acting in a certain way, but almost every action is directed by certain motivation.


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Motivation can be further divided into two different types.

Both kinds of motivation take part equally in a day-to-day life of an individual, and there are basic similarities and differences between the two. Let’s first discuss the differences.

Differences between Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic Motivation Vs Extrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic Motivation Extrinsic Motivation
The act of being motivated by internal factors to perform certain actions and behavior is called Intrinsic Motivation. 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
There is neither pressure nor any sort of reward for the actions you perform due to intrinsic motivation. You get rewarded as promised for the actions you perform due to extrinsic motivation.
The needs or causes that lead to intrinsic motivation are:
  • Autonomy: the need to have complete control over one’s own life.
  • Relatedness: the need to maintain companionship or connection with others.
  • Competence: the need to do be the best and/or succeed.
The needs or causes that lead to extrinsic motivation (and not limited to) are:
  • Money
  • Praise
  • Competition
  • Threat of a punishment
Intrinsic incentives are hard to figure. In a class or workplace, different individuals will/might require different approaches. Extrinsic incentives can be used to motivate a whole group, thus increasing productivity in workplace or creating a better learning environment in classrooms.
Fostering intrinsic motivation can be a lengthy process, requiring special treatment. Extrinsic Motivation often occur instantly as soon as the subject understands the perks of performing certain actions.
Intrinsic Motivation lasts for longer periods and often leads to higher level of success. Extrinsic Motivation might only occur for limited period of time, and the individual stops performing actions after the punishment or reward is applied.
Example 1: A student attends guitar classes because he wanted to. Whether he was inspired by some rockstars or just enjoyed the idea of playing in front of a crowd, this sort of motivation is classified as intrinsic motivation.

In the above example, there is a higher chance for a student to carry on playing guitar and reach stardom in the years to come.

Example 1: A student attends guitar classes because his parents promise to double his allowance money.

In the above example, the chances of the student learning guitar efficiently is quite low, as the student only seeks an excuse to quit. Additionally, the student is most likely to give up playing guitar if the allowance money isn't doubled as promised.

Example 2: A group of students might not all get intrinsically motivated, which could hamper class productivity. Example 2: A group of students could be persuaded with the promise of rewards, or even motivated under the fear of punishment. Regardless of the matter of motivation, the whole class would perform well increasing the overall productivity.

Similarities between Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Motivation

Both Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. There is no saying which among them is more beneficial, as it largely depends on the situation and the individuals being motivated. The techniques applied are different, time duration required for each type of motivation to kick in is different, and so are the results. However, at the core, the major purpose of both kinds of motivation remains the same. The ultimate goal is to motivate an individual to get the job done.

In conclusion, both types of motivation are required for an organism leading the organism in completing the goals.