Learn the Types of Extrinsic Motivation with Examples

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Learn the Types of Extrinsic Motivation with Examples
12 Mar 2022
3 min read

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We frequently do things for reasons other than pure enjoyment, i.e., we are extrinsically motivated. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is not created equal. Learn what extrinsic motivation is, how it differs from intrinsic motivation, and how to use it effectively. #TWN

What Is Motivation?

The underlying reasons, drives, and desires that lead to human behavior are referred to as motivation. It motivates us to take action to achieve our objectives.

People act for a variety of reasons. Motivation is divided into two categories by psychologists: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

What Is Extrinsic Motivation?

Extrinsic motivation is defined as doing something for a reason other than enjoyment, such as receiving rewards or avoiding punishment.

We frequently do things not because we enjoy them but because they are required or because we want to obtain something else. We are extrinsically motivated to do so when this occurs.

Examples of Extrinsic Motivation

Many examples of extrinsic motivation can be found all around us.

  • A student studies to please his or her parents.
  • To earn an extra allowance, a child takes on chores.
  • Workers put in extra hours to receive a bonus.

The intrinsic enjoyment or satisfaction of the activity is not the extrinsic motivator in these examples.

Extrinsic Motivation Can Involve Internal or External Rewards

Intrinsic motivation is fueled by self-interest.

So, are extrinsic rewards the source of extrinsic motivation?

Yes, but there's a lot more to it than that.

The topic of motivation can be perplexing at times. In the media and even some academic publications, extrinsic and external motivation are sometimes used interchangeably.

However, in psychology, the terms external and extrinsic are not interchangeable. Internal and intrinsic aren't the same thing.

External rewards come from the outside, whereas internal rewards come from within.

An external source, for example, causes a child to do homework to avoid punishment. And he is motivated extrinsically because he is doing it for a reason other than enjoyment. As a result, this child is both intrinsically and externally motivated to complete homework.

If a child studies because he wants to get good grades so that he can go to college later, on the other hand, his motivation is generated internally. He is extrinsically motivated, however, because he is not doing the school assignment for its own sake. The child is both internally and externally motivated in this case.

As a result, whereas intrinsic motivation is fueled by internal rewards, extrinsic motivation can be fueled by either internal or external rewards.

To avoid misunderstanding, internal rewards can be referred to as psychological rewards and external rewards as tangible rewards such as a gold star.

Prizes, for example, always result in extrinsic motivation.

However, psychological rewards can lead to either intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is created by some psychological rewards, such as a sense of enjoyment. Extrinsic motivation is created by other psychological rewards, such as a desire to attend college.

Mixing Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation Can Backfire

External rewards are one of the most prevalent strategies to inspire people. Researchers have discovered, however, that attempts to boost extrinsic motives can sometimes backfire.

In a classic experiment, researchers gave "magic markers" to some preschoolers who already demonstrated an interest in sketching with them. When these kids were allowed to play freely again, they showed little interest in using the markers. The youngsters who were not rewarded, on the other hand, continued to draw with the markers.

Applying an extrinsic reward to a person who is already intrinsically driven to achieve something can reduce their intrinsic motivation. It is commonly known as the overjustification effect.

Importance of Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is often less desired than intrinsic motivation, according to decades of research. People that are extrinsically motivated have lower levels of involvement, perseverance, and innovation.

Extrinsic motivation might not only conflict with intrinsic motivation (overjustification effect), but it is also ineffective at motivating people.

Should we completely disregard external motivation?

Related: Jean Piaget’s Four Stages of Cognitive Development

Extrinsic motivation is still crucial, despite its limitations, especially in school and the job.

Not everyone enjoys the same activities, and not everyone can be passionate about the same subject. In the lack of intrinsic motivation, we must rely on extrinsic motivation to complete tasks.

Extrinsic motivation comes in four varieties, and not all of them are created equal.

Four Types of Extrinsic Motivation

When the contextual factors are different, the type of extrinsic motivation is different, according to Self-Determination Theory.

As a result, even if a person is not intrinsically motivated, knowing which type of extrinsic motivation is at work can help you motivate them effectively.

The four types of extrinsic motivation are as follows:

External Regulation

You do something to satisfy an external demand or receive an externally imposed reward if you are subject to external regulation.

A student who works hard in class to receive a good grade from his parents is an example. Although the behavior is deliberate, it is under the control of a third party. The action is then regulated from the outside.

An externally regulated behavior is perceived as controlled rather than autonomous by the person.

External regulation is the least desirable type of motivation, and it is frequently contrasted with intrinsic motivation.

Introjected Regulation

Introjection is when you accept the reason for doing something but don't fully accept it.

A student who spends a lot of time practicing piano for a recital believes that if she doesn't do well, she won't be able to play well, and others will judge her.

Such regulation is still regarded as ‘controlled’ since introjected behavior is the outcome of internal pressure of

  • Reducing anxiety or guilt
  • Enhancing pride or ego
  • Maintaining the feeling of self-worth or self-esteem

Even though the person has accepted the activity's goal as necessary and the intention is internal (psychological), it is still not perceived as a "free choice."

Introjected motivation is still undesirable because the action is governed or coerced by internal forces rather than being self-directed.

Regulation through Identification

This type of extrinsic motivation is less controlling.

Identification denotes that a person consciously values a goal and considers the activity to be personally significant. They don't do it because they feel obligated to.

As an example, consider a student who works very hard to prepare for the SAT exam because getting into college is very important to him. Getting into college is a goal that you set for yourself. Even though the behavior is extrinsically motivated, it remains relatively autonomous.

It is different if a student does it because they believe they "should" go to college like everyone else and will feel like a failure if they do not (introduced regulation), or because their parents are pressuring them to do so (external regulation).

Integrated Regulation

Integration occurs when a person has fully accepted the reason for action, i.e., when the cause has been examined and found to be compatible with their own values and needs. The action is then self-initiated. It is self-contained and not governed by an outside force.

Despite being extrinsic, integrated motivation is the best type of extrinsic motivation because it shares many similarities with intrinsic motivation. Some researchers even refer to integrated regulation as intrinsic because the person has completely internalized the extrinsic cause.

When intrinsic motivation isn't an option, integrated regulation is the next best thing.

Best Ways to Motivate Extrinsically

The four types of extrinsic motivation are located on a spectrum of autonomy, from least autonomous (externally regulated) to most autonomous (integrated).

To achieve integrated regulation, one must believe in the goal of the activity and feel free to choose it.

Two other factors that can lead to integrated regulation are:

  • competence – the ability to achieve success
  • relatedness – the feeling of being connected to others

Here are some ideas for motivating someone who lacks intrinsic motivation:

Find Good Reasons

To be motivated, a person must believe in the worth of activity. As a result, give good reasons. Good reasons are those that are in line with the individual's values and needs.

Related: Erikson’s 8 Stages of Psychosocial Development Explained

Give Challenges and Feedback

Help a person feel competent by starting the activity a notch or two above their current abilities so that it is both challenging and achievable. Gradually increase the person's limit as they complete the task. Along the way, give genuine praise and constructive feedback while avoiding criticism.

Connect with Those Who Are Motivated

People are driven by an innate desire to feel a sense of belonging and connection to others. Do the activity with someone you can relate to and who is passionate about it. Find a buddy, a mentor, or join a team, for example.

Final Thoughts on Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation does not always trump intrinsic motivation. External rewards may work in the short run to help people stay motivated on a task. However, to achieve better results, strive for integrated regulation by identifying the right reason, developing a sense of competence, and feeling connected.

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