What drives our behaviours? Why do we do the things we do? The different reasons for motivation have been long reviewed. One in particular is whether motivation arises from inside (intrinsic) or outside (extrinsic) the individual.

Different types of motivation

Intrinsic motivation is the desire to carry out a particular behaviour for its own personal reward. You are performing an activity for its own sake rather than the desire for some external reward. E.g. going for a swim because you just enjoy swimming or hiking because you like a challenge and find it exciting.

Whereas, extrinsic motivation is being motivated to perform a behaviour or activity to earn a reward or avoid punishment. E.g. playing a sport to win trophies/medals or lifting weights cause your crush like guys with big arms.

Why is it so important for me to know what is motivating me?

Researchers have found that whether a behaviour is intrinsically or extrinsically motivated can differ in how effective it is. By offering excessive external rewards for an already internally rewarding behaviour can lead to a reduction in intrinsic motivation (known as the over-justification effect). While most people would suggest that intrinsic motivation is best, in certain situations it’s not always possible. There are situations where people simply do not have any internal desire to engage in a particular behaviour/activity. For example, completing a project at work/school. Here extrinsic motivators can be a useful tool.

In actuality, there is always a mixture of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that motivate someone to behave, achieve, learn and react in a certain way. By understanding the distinction between the two, you can have a greater probability of motivating yourself and others. On top of this, having an understanding of the cause of your behaviour and motivating factors is the key to changing or improving your outcomes.