The Difference Between Extrinsic & Intrinsic Motivation

The Difference Between Extrinsic & Intrinsic Motivation

The Importance of Rewards

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are behavioral forces that drive individuals towards gaining or accomplishing a particular end. The major difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is that intrinsic motivation is an internalized motivation, whereas extrinsic motivation is based upon external stimuli such as rewards and punishments. Examples of intrinsic motivation would be feelings of satisfaction from a job well-done, admiration from boss or peers for success, wishing to be the best, wishing to be successful, not wishing to fail, etc… Extrinsic motivation is generally seen as a rewards and punishment system. Doing the job correct and receiving a monetary bonus, success brings a promotion, threat of being fired for making a mistake, the promise of commission, etc…

A example of extrinsic motivation can be seen when a person finishes a hard week of work and treats themself to a milkshake. This reward for having worked hard is external and tangible. Although this reward makes a person happy the sense of accomplishment at the end of the week is a far greater reward. Feeling this way is an important part of a great reward.

The key to understanding these different motivating forces is to understand that intrinsic motivation is contextual in nature and may change over time. Feelings of accomplishment can change as challenges in a job become easier for workers. These changes can lead to boredom and dissatisfaction. As well, extrinsic motivations can become expected if given too often or consistently over time. For these reasons, it is better to be motivated intrinsically. Individuals who are motivated extrinsically tend to seek tangible rewards in situations and there many situations in which these types of rewards are not available. For instance, if a person is motivated extrinsically than relationships with others can take on selfish forms in which acts are viewed in a quid pro quo manner at the cost of loyalty and other important values.


Triola Vincent. Fri, Feb 05, 2021. The Difference Between Extrinsic & Intrinsic Motivation Retrieved from

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