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Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
Lisa Legault
Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY, USA
Synonyms
Intrinsic motivation interest, enjoyment, inher-
ent satisfaction
Extrinsic motivation instrumental motivation,
noninherent motivation
Definitions
Intrinsic motivation (IM) refers to engagement in
behavior that is inherently satisfying or enjoyable.
IM is noninstrumental in nature, that is, intrinsi-
cally motivated action is not contingent upon any
outcome separable from the behavior itself.
Rather, the means and end are one and the same.
For example, a child may play outdoors running,
skipping, jumping for no other reason than
because it is fun and innately satisfying.
Conversely, Extrinsic motivation (EM) refers
to performance of behavior that is fundamentally
contingent upon the attainment of an outcome that
is separable from the action itself. In other words,
EM is instrumental in nature. It is performed in
order to attain some other outcome. For instance,
a teenager might wash dishes at home in order to
receive an allowance. Similarly, a student may
study for a test in order to receive an
A. Extrinsic motivation is multidimensional and
varies from completely external (e.g., washing
dishes to get an allowance) to completely internal
(e.g., engaging in recycling because one perceives
oneself to be an environmentally responsible
citizen).
Introduction: The Intrinsic-Extrinsic
Distinction
Early research on intrinsic motivation (IM) began
with the investigation into how extrinsic rewards
affected intrinsic motivation for an interesting
task. Initial studies found that if an individual
engaged freely in an activity (out of interest) and
was subsequently offered an external reward such
as money (Deci 1971) or points (Lepper
et al. 1973) for engaging in that activity, then
intrinsic motivation toward the activity declined.
Although these initial ndings were controversial
because they challenged operant theories of
behavioral reinforcement, a subsequent meta-
analysis afrmed that when extrinsic rewards are
expected and tangible, they indeed undermine
intrinsic motivation for an activity (Deci
et al. 1999). The main reason for this undermining
effect is because extrinsic rewards tend to shift the
individuals reasons for performing the behavior
from internal (e.g., interest, fun) to external (e.g.,
to receive the reward), thus changing the source of
the motivation and locus of causality for action.
#Springer International Publishing AG 2016
V. Zeigler-Hill, T.K. Shackelford (eds.), Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences,
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1139-1
Although intrinsic motivation is considered the
most optimal form of motivation and is associated
with various benets including enjoyment, per-
sistence, and psychological well-being (Deci and
Ryan 2008), extrinsic motivators are sometimes
thought to be helpful to promote action for behav-
iors that are not intrinsically interesting (e.g.,
recycling, doing homework, obeying trafc
laws). In other words, the desire to entice or com-
pel people to comply with standards of socially
desirable behavior is sometimes at odds with the
preservation and promotion of individual auton-
omy and intrinsic motivation. Mounting evidence
suggests, however, that despite the initial ease and
allure of extrinsic motivators, they carry a sub-
stantive cost to learning and the development of
autonomous self-sustaining behavior (Kohn
1999). After all, the use of incentives and rewards
to motivate people decreases the likelihood that
genuine interest and self-generated motivation
will develop and persist.
Influences on Intrinsic and Extrinsic
Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is a natural human
tendency in other words, people will actively
strive toward doing the things they nd interesting
or enjoyable. However, in order for intrinsic moti-
vation to ourish, the social environment must
nurture it. Social contexts exert an inuence on
the experience of intrinsic motivation by affecting
perceived autonomy and competence.
In general, when the social environment sup-
ports autonomy by increasing an internal per-
ceived locus of causality (i.e., the behavior stems
from personal choice and internal causation rather
than external pressure), then intrinsic motivation
is enhanced. In contrast, when the social environ-
ment neglects or thwarts autonomy by increasing
an external perceived locus of causality (e.g., by
offering extrinsic rewards or making demands),
then intrinsic motivation is undermined. Thus, to
the extent that the social environment uses con-
trolling behavioral strategies and external con-
straints, reinforcers, and punishers, then
motivation will become less intrinsic and more
extrinsic because personal autonomy is
compromised. For instance, it has been found
that threats of punishment (Deci and Cascio
1972), deadlines (Amabile et al. 1976), and sur-
veillance (Plant and Ryan 1985) all work to
diminish intrinsic motivation and increase extrin-
sic motivation.
Perceived competence also affects intrinsic
motivation. When the social environment under-
mines perceived competence, intrinsic motivation
decreases; in contrast, when the social environ-
ment increases perceived competence in an activ-
ity, then intrinsic motivation rises. For instance,
positive feedback (e.g., verbal praise) tends to fuel
perceptions of personal effectance and bolster
intrinsic motivation. Interestingly, however, this
strengthening effect of positive feedback on
intrinsic motivation requires that the individual
also experience autonomy in performing the
action, in addition to feeling competent.
Different Forms of Extrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation characterizes behaviors that
are fun, interesting, and optimally challenging.
When activities are void of these qualities, there
will be little motivation to engage in them unless
incentives are available or external/social contin-
gencies are made salient, that is, unless there
exists extrinsic motivation. Not all extrinsic moti-
vation is the same, however, and some forms of
extrinsic motivation feel more self-endorsed and
self-concordant than others. Rather than being a
one-dimensional construct, extrinsic motivation is
a broad class of motivations that range in the
extent to which they are autonomous, that is, the
extent to which they stem from an internal per-
ceived locus of causality and sense of personal
volition. Therefore, even if an activity is not fun or
enjoyable (and thus not intrinsically motivated), it
may nonetheless be internally regulated as
opposed to externally controlled.
Self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan
1985) proposes a continuum of extrinsic motiva-
tion that ranges in terms of the level of
internalization that is, the degree to which
behavior is self-determined (see Fig. 1). The
2 Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
most external form external regulation refers
to behavior that is controlled mainly through
external factors (e.g., deadlines, rewards, direc-
tives, punishers). This type of behavior serves
mostly to satisfy external demands, and so the
source of motivation and causality for behavior
is external rather than internal. Introjected regu-
lation refers to behavior wherein external pres-
sures have been partially deected inward, but
not truly adopted or internalized. This type of
motivation feels quite controlling, but more from
a sense of internal rather than external pressure.
Identied regulation is a more autonomous form
of extrinsic motivation and denotes the point at
which behavior becomes internally governed and
self-endorsed. This type of regulation occurs
when the individual values or identies with the
outcome of the activity. Although identications
feel autonomously chosen, they may nonetheless
be separate from the individuals other values and
beliefs and thus may not reect the persons core
self or overarching value system. Finally, the most
autonomous form of extrinsic motivation, inte-
grated regulation, refers to behavior that is fully
internalized. At this point, identications have
been merged with other deeply held beliefs,
values, and needs. Integrated motivation feels
consonant with the self; such behavior serves
almost a means of self-expression and identity.
Because of this, integrated behavior is associated
with feelings of self-integration and psychological
well-being (Weinstein et al. 2011). Despite being
highly internalized, integrated regulation is none-
theless extrinsic because it serves the expression
of something other than pure enjoyment or inter-
est (i.e., deeply held values or beliefs, core
identity).
Conclusion
Whereas intrinsic motivation denotes the perfor-
mance of an action out of interest or enjoyment,
extrinsic motivation arises from an externally or
socially created reason to perform an action.
Extrinsic motivators such as money or other
rewards can produce extrinsic motivation due to
the fact that they generate desire for the conse-
quence of the activity; they do not produce desire
to engage in the activity for its own sake. When
people engage in activities for extrinsic rewards,
their motivation is entrenched in the environment
rather than within themselves. Conversely, intrin-
sic motivation exists within the individual and can
be harnessed and enhanced by environments that
support the individuals autonomy and compe-
tence. Intrinsic motivation underlies peoples nat-
ural inclinations to seek out novelty and
Type of Extrinsic
Motivation
Nature of External
Contingency
Underlying Reason for
Behavior
Example
External Regulation
Introjected Regulation Feelings of internal
pressure; to avoid guilt
or to boost the ego
Because it “should” be
done
“I avoid acting in a
prejudiced manner
because I would feel
bad about myself if I
didn’t”
Identified Regulation Because it is important
Integrated Regulation Expression of self and
identity; congruence
with self and other
values
Because it reflects core
values and self/identity
“I avoid being
prejudiced because I
see myself as a
nonprejudiced person”
“I avoid being
prejudiced because it is
an important goal”
“I avoid making
prejudiced comments
so that other people
will think I’m
nonprejudiced”
To receive or avoid a
consequence; to fulfill
an external
requirement
Consequences,
incentives, compliance
Personal valuing of a
behavior, sense of
importance
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation, Fig. 1 Types of extrinsic motivation applied to the example of motivation to
regulate racial prejudice (Adapted from Legault et al. 2007)
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation 3
challenge, as well as to learn, develop, and grow.
Unlike extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation
is associated creativity and vitality (Deci and
Ryan 2008).
Cross-References
Self-Determination Theory
The Need for Autonomy
The Need for Competence
References
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4 Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
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