What is an example of extrinsic motivation

What Is It and How Does It Work?


Extrinsic motivation is reward-driven behavior. It’s a type of operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is a form of behavior modification that uses rewards or punishments to increase or decrease the likelihood that specific behaviors will recur.

In extrinsic motivation, rewards or other incentives — like praise, fame, or money — are used as motivation for specific activities. Unlike intrinsic motivation, external factors drive this form of motivation.

Being paid to do a job is an example of extrinsic motivation. You may enjoy spending your day doing something other than work, but you’re motivated to go to work because you need a paycheck to pay your bills. In this example, you’re extrinsically motivated by the ability to afford your daily expenses. In return, you work a set number of hours a week to receive pay.

Extrinsic motivation doesn’t always have a tangible reward. It can also be done through abstract rewards, like praise and fame.

In contrast, intrinsic motivation is when internal forces like personal growth or a desire to succeed fuel your drive to complete a task. Intrinsic motivation is typically seen as a more powerful incentive for behaviors that require long-term execution.

Extrinsic motivation can be used to motivate you to do various different things. If there’s a known reward tied to the task or outcome, you may be extrinsically motivated to complete the task.

Examples of external extrinsic rewards include:

  • competing in sports for trophies
  • completing work for money
  • customer loyalty discounts
  • buy one, get one free sales
  • frequent flyer rewards

Examples of psychological extrinsic rewards include:

  • helping people for praise from friends or family
  • doing work for attention, either positive or negative
  • doing tasks for public acclaim or fame
  • doing tasks to avoid judgment
  • completing coursework for grades

Extrinsic motivation may be more effective for some people than it is for others. Certain situations may also be better suited for this form of motivation. For some people, the benefits of external rewards are enough to motivate high-quality continuous work. For others, value-based benefits are more motivating.

Extrinsic motivation is best used in circumstances when the reward is used sparingly enough so it doesn’t lose its impact. The value of the reward can decrease if the reward is given too much. This is sometimes referred to as the overjustification effect.

The overjustification effect happens when an activity you already enjoy is rewarded so often that you lose interest. In one study, researchers looked at the way 20-month-olds responded to material rewards compared to their response to social praise or no reward. Researchers found that the group that received material rewards was less likely to engage in the same helpful behaviors in the future. This suggests that the overjustification effect can start at an early age.

There’s some evidence that an excessive amount of extrinsic rewards can lead to a decrease in intrinsic motivation. Not all researchers agree, however. The idea was first explored in a study published in 1973.

During the study, some children were rewarded for playing with felt-tip pens. This was an activity they already enjoyed. Other children weren’t rewarded for this activity. After continued reward, the reward group no longer wanted to play with the pens. The study participants who weren’t rewarded continued to enjoy playing with the pens.

A meta-analysis from 1994 found little evidence to support the conclusions from the 1973 study. Instead, they determined that extrinsic motivation didn’t affect long-term enjoyment of activities. However, a follow-up meta-analysis published in 2001 found evidence to support the original theory from 1973.

Finally, a more recent meta-analysis from 2014 determined that extrinsic motivation only has negative outcomes in very specific situations. But for the most part, it can be an effective form of motivation.

Depending on how it’s used, it’s possible that extrinsic motivation could have negative long-term effects. It’s likely an effective method when used in addition to other forms of motivation.

A major drawback to using extrinsic motivation is knowing what to do when the reward is gone or its value is exhausted. There’s also the possibility of dependency on the reward.

The usefulness of extrinsic motivators should be evaluated on a case-by-case and person-by-person basis.

Very few studies have explored the long-term effects of continuous extrinsic motivation use with children. Extrinsic motivation can be a useful tool for parents to teach children tasks and responsibilities.

Certain extrinsic motivators, like support and encouragement, may be healthy additions to parenting practices. Some rewards are often discouraged because it may lead to unhealthy associations with the rewards later in life. For example, using food as a reward may lead to unhealthy eating habits.

For small developmental tasks, extrinsic motivators like praise can be very helpful. For instance, using praise can help with toilet training. If you use external rewards, try phasing them out over time so that your child doesn’t become dependent on the reward.

Extrinsic motivation can be useful for persuading someone to complete a task. Before assigning a reward-based task, it’s important to know if the person doing the task is motivated by the reward being offered. Extrinsic motivators may be a useful tool to help children learn new skills when used in moderation.

For some people, psychological extrinsic motivators are more appealing. For others, external rewards are more attractive. It’s important to remember, however, that extrinsic motivation isn’t always effective.

Extrinsic motivation: Definition, examples, and benefits

Extrinsic motivation refers to sources of motivation that come from outside oneself. For example, the promise of a promotion at work or the threat of losing a job can be a form of extrinsic motivation.

Depending on the situation, extrinsic motivation can come from positive reinforcement, such as a reward, or negative reinforcement, such as a punishment.

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from within. Passion, altruism, and enjoyment may motivate someone to do something regardless of whether there is an external reward. Sometimes, a person has a mixture of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

Most research shows that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can encourage people to perform tasks or achieve short-term goals. The effects of these different types of motivation on long-term goals are less clear.

Some research suggests that too much extrinsic motivation may undermine learning and goal achievement over time and reduce intrinsic motivation.

In this article, learn more about extrinsic motivation, including its advantages and disadvantages and how to use it in a range of situations.

Motivation is the desire to do something. Extrinsic motivation describes any situation where someone’s desire to act occurs due to external factors, such as:

  • a potential reward
  • a potential punishment
  • certain short- and long-term consequences

What people find extrinsically motivating can depend on their wants, needs, and values.

For example, a student who does not care about their grades will not find the thought of getting a low grade a good source of extrinsic motivation because they do not value their academic performance. However, they might dislike the prospect of repeating the school year if they fail, which may motivate them.

Sometimes, extrinsic motivation is the only motivation for doing something. Other times, people have a mixture of motivations. These could include:

Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation means that someone’s desire to do something comes from inside them and does not need any external reward or punishment to prompt it. Pleasure, passion, and moral principles can be forms of intrinsic motivation.

Unlike extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation does not revolve around the consequences of an action. People feel motivated regardless of the outcome.

Achievement motivation

Some scholars add a third category of motivation, known as achievement motivation, to this list.

According to this concept, intrinsic motivation means that a person likes the task. Achievement motivation means that they like achieving goals.

For example, a child entering a spelling bee might not enjoy learning words, but they may enjoy winning the competition, even if there is no physical reward.

However, not everyone agrees that this is a separate category. Some might argue that it is a variant of intrinsic motivation or that it involves elements of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Some examples of extrinsic motivation include:

  • Rewards: A person may wish to complete tasks to acquire stickers, toys, money, or approval from others.
  • Punishments: Examples include time-outs, the loss of certain privileges, or suspension from school or work.
  • Competition with others: A person may want to perform better than their peers when it comes to school grades or behavior charts.
  • Compensation: Tips, company perks, and pay rises can motivate people to work hard when providing goods or services.

Some examples of intrinsic motivation include:

  • Pleasure: This could come from the fun of a creative hobby or the thrill of something dangerous.
  • Curiosity: A person may feel motivated to read a book because it sounds interesting.
  • A love of learning: This may encourage someone to learn a language in their free time.
  • Passion: Passion may spur someone to take on extra tasks at work without hope of reward.
  • Morals: An example includes always telling the truth due to the belief that it is wrong to lie.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are not mutually exclusive. In some situations, both play a role.

For example, a student at medical school can have intrinsic motivation from their love of the subject. However, their earning potential when they graduate may provide extrinsic motivation.

Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can help a person achieve their goals. Some studies suggest that intrinsic motivation is more motivating.

A 2019 study of biology students found that although intrinsic motivation more strongly affects learning-related behavior, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators could encourage achievement.

Another 2019 study found that intrinsic motivation to read led to more reading achievement in some grades, and vice versa. However, there was no such link to extrinsic motivation.

A 2016 research article notes that extrinsic rewards may also undermine how effectively people take in knowledge, affecting their ability to perform well in tests and exams. When researchers offered money for a good test performance to some participants and no reward to the others, the latter group actually had better memory recall and gave more correct answers.

Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation may help a person change their habits.

Some proponents of extrinsic motivation argue that it can eventually become integrated into someone’s behavior. For example, a person might reward themselves for tidying their room until that task becomes a part of their daily routine.

However, other research suggests that intrinsic motivation might have a better effect on habit formation. A 2018 study assessed the role of reward in establishing the habits of flossing and taking a vitamin C supplement. The researchers found that intrinsic motivators were more reliable predictors of habit formation.

According to the study authors, prior research supports this conclusion. They note that intrinsic motivators, such as feeling healthier after quitting smoking, can have a stronger effect on the formation of habits.

The use of extrinsic motivation in parenting is fairly common. Parents and caregivers may find that it helps motivate children to do things that they consider boring, such as brushing their teeth or completing their homework.

However, it may be beneficial to see whether a child has any intrinsic motivation to do a task before trying this technique.

Several older studies suggest that relying too heavily on extrinsic rewards may undermine a child’s motivation to perform without them. This may be especially true for activities that are already rewarding.

For example, some children like helping adults cook or clean, as it makes them feel useful or grown-up. However, if an adult assumes that the child will not help unless they have a reward, the child may look forward to the reward instead. This might reduce their intrinsic motivation.

Certain types of extrinsic motivation are also potentially harmful. For instance, food rewards can teach children that some foods are “good” while others are “bad,” which then attaches emotions, such as guilt, to certain food choices.

Later in life, this can contribute to the cycles of eating and shame that disordered eating typically involves. It may also encourage children to eat when they are not hungry or eat more than they need.

If a parent or caregiver wishes to use a reward, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends non-food rewards, such as:

  • stickers
  • play dates
  • sleepovers
  • fun trips or activities
  • time off from chores

Both types of motivation have the potential to cause harm. At its most extreme, extrinsic motivation can include excessive punishment and abuse.

Intrinsic motivation can also cause someone to act in ways that cause indirect or unintentional harm to themselves or others. For example, a person looking for fun may participate in cliff jumping, even though this activity is risky.

However, some people believe that extrinsic motivators are inherently less beneficial than intrinsic ones, particularly those that a person does not internalize, such as a rule they disagree with or a task they dread doing.

Self-determination theory (SDT) is a concept from psychology that asserts that autonomy — a person’s ability to make their own decisions — is highly important for happiness and growth. External pressures can limit this, as rules may exist that people have to follow whether they want to or not.

This may only apply to extrinsic motivation that a person or institution imposes on someone else, though. If someone has set their own goal and rewards for hitting certain milestones, they still have autonomy.

A significant downside of intrinsic motivation is that a person must genuinely want to do something to benefit from it. People can influence and inspire others to have intrinsic motivation by changing their perspective on a task, but this can be a skill that people have to learn.

Extrinsic motivation is when someone feels motivated to do something to gain a reward or avoid a punishment. For instance, they may hope to get money, gifts, or recognition. Alternatively, they may fear having fewer privileges or being grounded.

Both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation can be both useful and harmful. Extrinsic motivation may help in the early stages of forming a new habit or when an action is unlikely to be inherently motivating or rewarding in itself.

However, frequent rewards, and certain types of rewards, may have negative consequences. Due to this, people should be mindful of the types of extrinsic motivation they are using, particularly with children.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: what's the difference?

We all have different reasons for getting up in the morning.

So why is it sometimes more difficult than on other days to get up at the alarm clock, work out, do work, schoolwork, or cook dinner for the family?

Motivation (or lack thereof) is usually behind why we do what we do.

As it turns out, understanding why you are motivated to do something can help not only keep you motivated, but also motivate others.

In this article, we dive into the two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic, to learn the differences between the two, the benefits, and how to use both types to improve performance.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation rewards you personally . In this case, you want to learn something yourself or you enjoy the process of activity, simply because really want it.

Examples of intrinsic motivation:

  • Reading a book because you enjoy reading stories
  • Exercise because you want to relieve stress
  • Cleaning the house because it helps you feel organized

External motivation operates from the principle: to receive a reward or avoid punishment.

When you are externally motivated, your behavior comes from the desire to achieve a goal or task in order to get a the approval of others , reward or avoid a less positive outcome.

Examples of extrinsic motivation:

  • Reading a book to prepare for a test
  • Slimming workouts
  • House cleaning for arrival

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: what's the difference?

At first glance it may seem that it is better to be motivated internally than externally. After all, in this case, you don't need someone or something to force you to complete tasks.

But, alas, we do not live in a motivational utopia. Being motivated outwardly doesn't mean anything bad - it's just human nature.

If a project needs to be completed at work, you are likely to be truly motivated by a manager's praise, a potential promotion, or a test, even if you enjoy what you do. If you are in school, then the motivation to learn a new language will come with a good grade, even if you enjoy practicing and learning it.

When is it better to use extrinsic and intrinsic motivation?

Research has shown that praise can help increase internal motivation. Positive, sincere words that build confidence and self-confidence have been found to increase children's intrinsic motivation.

However, extrinsic rewards can not only increase but also decrease intrinsic motivation if there are too many of them. When children received too much praise for completing minimal work or individual tasks, their intrinsic motivation decreased.

The principles of this study also apply to adults.

Be careful with praise and positive feedback. Make sure it's specific to each team member, enhances personal interaction, and helps you understand your expectations. Also make sure you don't focus too much on work that is less meaningful to the team, which can lead to a loss of intrinsic motivation.

External motivation includes more than just monetary rewards (although this sometimes works).

In fact, an extrinsic reward may increase interest in a task or skill in which the person previously had no interest. Rewards such as praise, a bonus, or a prize can also motivate people to learn something new. However, studies have shown that too many rewards for self-initiated actions can reduce intrinsic motivation due to the overvaluation effect.

Offering rewards for activities that a person already finds rewarding can change the feeling of personal gratification into a feeling of hard work, which can downright kill motivation.

Use external rewards to motivate your team to achieve high goals. Bonuses, prizes, and heartfelt recognition can be an effective way to motivate or reward your team for learning something new, completing unusual tasks, or hitting a quarterly goal quickly. However, make sure you allow enough time and resources to learn new skills and projects without making them part of your regular duties, which can be demotivating.

What methods of motivation do you use? Share with us in the comments 🙂

Internal and external motivation - Psychologos

Film "Dan Pink"

​​​​​​External motivation is an inducement or coercion to do something by external circumstances or incentives for a person.

A thundercloud on the horizon is very motivating to quickly run home from the forest. They promised people a bonus - they began to move faster. We wrote the rules to the employees, imposed fines - whether you like it or not, the employees began to focus on the rules. A man who suddenly appeared from the gateway pointed a gun at you and demanded a wallet from you - you will give the wallet without much hesitation.

Intrinsic motivation - motivation that a person carries within himself, regardless of the external environment.

Intrinsically motivated behavior - behavior that occurs in the absence of any explicit external reward. Or - when it is not clear what external motives and reinforcements guide a person. How different psychologists explain this phenomenon, see Intrinsic motivation in psychology

Intrinsic motivation is not associated with external circumstances, not with incentives and reinforcements, but, first of all, with the very content of the activity.

A small child is always trying something, exploring everything - and it seems that this is determined not so much by the stimuli around him, but comes from himself.

Adult: "I don't work for a salary, I love my job. Here I have everything to be happy, and my reward is my activity itself!"

At the same time, it is wrong to think that internal motivation is born only inside a person and cannot be created from the outside: how else can it be! Japanese Emperor Hirohito, capitulating in World War II, gave his generals the task: "Leave the army, create the industry of Japan!" - and this became the real life work of his generals, and as a result - the source of the Japanese economic miracle. Little Paganini was forced to play the violin for 6-8 hours a day: they were forced, but as a result, the great violinist Nicolo Paganini was born.

Comparative efficiency

When solving simple problems where you just need not to be distracted - you just need to work and work - external motivation is more effective.

Pay more money - better results.

When solving complex, creative problems, external motivation is not only less effective, but has the opposite, negative effect.

More pay - less results.

By rewarding people for what they would have done without any reward, we undermine their intrinsic motivation. by forgoing rewards and threats, and by allowing people to find inner motives for doing good deeds, they can get them to do them on their own initiative and enjoy it.

Controversial issues

If a person wants to go to the toilet, is this extrinsic or intrinsic motivation? It seems to be internal, but in fact it is forced to go there by the bladder. If a person believes that his body is him, then YES, this is intrinsic motivation. And if a person does not identify with his body, considers himself something not reducible to the body and learns to live according to the laws of the spirit (or at least according to the rules accepted by people), and not what his body dictates to him, then pressure from the bladder for him external pressure.

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