Extrinsic Motivation in Psychology: Definition, Examples & Types

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  • 0:00 Overview of Extrinsic…
  • 0:32 Motivation: Extrinsic…
  • 2:38 Types of Extrinsic Motivation
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Motivation that comes from external sources, such as monetary rewards and trophies, is called extrinsic motivation. Learn about the different types of extrinsic motivation, how it differs from intrinsic motivation, and more.

Overview of Extrinsic Motivation

Imagine that you were conducting a research study on the motivation of business students to pursue a degree beyond their bachelors. You find that 75% of those who responded said they chose to get an advanced degree because they loved the field of business, enjoyed school, or enjoyed learning about new things. The other 25% indicated that they got an advanced degree to get a raise, find a job with better benefits, or to earn their parents' approval. The reasons that the 25% gave for continuing are examples of extrinsic motivation.

Motivation: Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic

You are probably familiar with the term motivation. Motivation refers to your drive or reason for doing something. Without motivation, we would have no inspiration, and we would not get very much accomplished. You can see that motivation is key when it comes to getting people to take action.

Motivation can either be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation refers to taking some action for the sake of enjoyment or the satisfaction that you receive. The motivation for acting can be found in the action itself, and not in some external force (i.e., a reward or outcome). When you act based on intrinsic motivation, you are doing something because it is fun, you enjoy it, or you find it pleasurable.

Do you have a hobby that you participate in solely because you enjoy it? If so, you are intrinsically motivated to do so. In the example above, the reasons that the 75% gave for continuing their education are examples of intrinsic motivation.

Some other examples of intrinsic motivation include:

  • Going to school every day because you enjoy learning about new things
  • Completing your chores because you enjoy cleaning and find it calming
  • Reading a book because reading is fun

Extrinsic motivation refers to taking some action in order to obtain a reward or outcome. Instead of doing something because it is fun, people who are extrinsically motivated act based on what they receive as a result. They are not concerned with the action itself; they are only concerned with the resulting rewards. While intrinsic motivation is based off internal factors, extrinsic motivation is dependent upon external factors and outcomes.

Different things can serve as sources of extrinsic motivation. For example, one person may work at a company in order to receive a paycheck, while another person may be working at that same job in order to receive health benefits. Extrinsic motivation also includes performing activities in order to avoid punishment. An example of this is completing your chores so that your parents won't ground you.

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