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Intrinsic Motivators: Examples & Overview

Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Intrinsic motivators are internal desires to do something. Explore the examples and overview of intrinsic motivators and learn why they are important and what some common intrinsic motivators are. Updated: 02/07/2022

What are Intrinsic Motivators?

Imagine this: you are offered two different jobs. At one, you'll be doing what you love to do. You won't be asked to do anything that you don't like to do, and management won't pressure you. The other job entails tasks that you hate to do. You'll get to do some things you like, but the vast majority of your time will be taken up with things that you find tedious and annoying; however, this second job pays extremely well - much better than the first job. Which job do you take?

Psychologists have found that people are driven by two basic types of motivators: intrinsic motivators and extrinsic motivators. Intrinsic motivation involves doing something because you want to do it, while extrinsic motivation involves doing something because of the outcome, such as receiving a reward.

In the above example, you're intrinsically motivated to do the first job and extrinsically motivated to do the second. Put another way, the thing that drives you to do the first job (passion for the work) is an intrinsic motivator. Contrast that with the reward that drives you to do the second job (high pay), which is an extrinsic motivator.

Why Are Intrinsic Motivators Important?

Looking at the above example, you might say, 'Ok, so the first job has an intrinsic motivator, and the second job has an extrinsic motivator. So what? The money is enough motivation for me!'

Perhaps, but consider this: psychologists have found that intrinsic motivators have all sorts of benefits. People rate job satisfaction higher when they are intrinsically motivated, and they are more productive and burn out less frequently than those who have jobs that are primarily extrinsically motivated. Additionally, students who are guided by intrinsic motivators, such as a love of learning, generally have higher grades, lower incidents of depression, and even better physical health.

What are Some Common Intrinsic Motivators?

There are many examples of intrinsic motivators. Let's look at a few of them, along with real-world scenarios of each:

1. Passion for the subject. Katie loves to play soccer. She has a passion for the sport and often spends her free time running drills or watching games. She is very different from her teammate Jessie, who only plays on the soccer team so that she can get a scholarship.

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