Types of intrinsic motivation difference between extrinsic motivation

Motivation is the expression of the motives that induce a person to perform or tend to a certain action. From a psychological point of view, it can be defined as the set of dynamic factors with a certain origin that drive an individual’s behavior towards a certain goal. According to this concept, every act that is performed without motivation runs the risk of failure. In this article we will provide you the information about the types of intrinsic motivation.

There are different types of motivation. Among which we find extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. In this Psychology-Online article, we will go deeper together into what intrinsic motivation is in psychology, its different types and some examples.

What is intrinsic motivation

The concept of intrinsic motivation was initially used by psychology to explain various “spontaneous” behaviors such as exploring new spaces and manipulating interesting objects, behaviors that seemed to occur independently of each “contingency of reinforcement”. Gradually, the concept acquired a broader meaning to explain a wide range of activities aimed at achieving goals relevant to subjects.

We define intrinsic motivation as the set of positive sensations associated with the fact of performing an activity or a job well , the motivation caused by the desire to obtain certain results. Intrinsically motivated people act because of the fun or challenge included in the goal , rather than external rewards, pressures, or demands. Motivation comes from the psychological rewards associated with success at a task they enjoy.

It is important to point out that when talking about intrinsic motivation there are individual differences: people are intrinsically motivated about certain activities and not about others, and not all are motivated by the same activities. Ryan and Deci identify at the basis of intrinsic motivation three innate psychological needs that support optimal functioning and development of the individual:

  • The need for competence.
  • The need for autonomy.
  • The need for rationality.


Daniel Pink is a modern business and management author with a strong attention to the fluctuating nature of work and its environments. In his book “Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” (2009), he focuses on the importance and effectiveness of three elements of intrinsic motivation at work:

  1. Autonomy : it is the desire to direct one’s own life and allow employees autonomy, contrary to the traditional view that wants employees to “respect” what is asked of them. However, if directors want employees to be more involved in what they are doing, they must allow them autonomy.
  2. Mastery : Mastery is the desire to continually improve something that matters. It is pleasant for humans to improve things and enjoy the satisfaction of results and personal progress. Allowing employees to enjoy a sense of progress at work contributes to their inner drive. On the other hand, a lack of on-the-job opportunities for self-improvement or personal and professional development can cause employees to become bored and unmotivated.
  3. Purpose : is the desire to do things in the service of something greater than ourselves. We want to do things that matter. Most of us spend more than half of our hours at work, which is why we want that time to be important.

Differences with extrinsic motivation

  • Unlike intrinsic motivation, which drives someone to do something for the sheer will to do it, extrinsic motivation guides the behavior of the person who performs a task in order to obtain a specific result. Extrinsic motivation is fueled by the individual’s desire to avoid or obtain, through his own behavior, certain consequences.
  • Internal stimuli generate intrinsic motivation and are determined by the desire and satisfaction of achieving a goal; external stimuli are outside the individual’s control and generate extrinsic motivation: in these cases, the subject undertakes to perform a task to obtain benefits or avoid negative circumstances.
  • Students who are intrinsically motivated to study benefit from the learning activity and are therefore interested in the study itself and not in the advantages derived from academic success; for them, it is important to acquire new skills and improve their knowledge, including through mistakes and unsuccessful attempts. Extrinsically motivated students, on the other hand, commit to studying for reasons external to them, for example, to obtain good qualifications : in many cases they prefer a positive assessment on simple tasks rather than the risk of a negative assessment on simple tasks. more demanding and important. Obviously, one motivation is not better than the other.

We hope you that you have understood the types of intrinsic motivation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button