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The Benefits of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Copyright © 2015 by Ty Howard.   All rights reserved.

"Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing;
but it is something you should do on a regular basis."

~ Zig Ziglar

To understand the benefits of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, the definition of these terms must be first revealed. Intrinsic motivation is behavior stimulated by what comes from within an individual. For example, a person may play a sport because they enjoy playing the sport, and they like the feeling it gives them. Extrinsic motivation on the other hand, is when we are motivated to perform because of some type of reward or to avoid being punished. In the sports example, a person may play the sport only to attract the opposite sex. That is extrinsic motivation.

There have been many studies to determine which type of motivation is best. While there are obvious benefits of both individually, used together in the correct proportion, they can produce amazing results.

Some benefits of intrinsic motivation

I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'
~ Muhammad Ali

The question isn't who's going to let me; it's who is going to stop me. ~ Ayn Rand

People who are intrinsically motivated to participate in events will typically get the best results from being involved. For instance, students who enjoy the subject of math usually do not have to be prodded to get involved with their class work. Learning about math fascinates them, and they are compelled internally to excel. Participation in the subject is rewarding internally to these students. Intrinsically motivated people have shown traits of increased self-advocacy, goal achievement, and positive self-esteem.

Some benefits of extrinsic motivation

No one has ever become poor by giving. ~ Anne Frank

Motivation is everything. You can do the work of two people, but you can't be two people. Instead, you have to inspire the next guy down the line and get him to inspire his people. ~ Lee Iacocca

While there are plenty of documented benefits of intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation has its advantages as well. Rewarding people for performance is a very old and generally dependable form of motivation. Financial gain is one of the greatest motivators ever created! Employers routinely give out performance bonuses for a certain level of job performance. Teachers often reward students for completed extra credit assignments. Sometimes it takes these types of external motivators to achieve desired results or the people simply may not perform if they are not interested.

The benefits of combining both types of motivation

My sister Venus Williams is the greatest, and anyone who is about to quit should get motivation from her. ~ Serena Williams

Motivation is the fuel, necessary to keep the human engine running. ~ Zig Ziglar

There are very effective ways to achieve desired results by combining intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Identifying the source of a person's motivation is a great interpersonal skill for you to develop, and a great starting point as well. Those who are in positions to influence others can help add value to the people they are leading by learning what their primary motivations are and how to satisfy them. In the case of students, something as simple as complimenting them with "A job well done!" for good quality work is like an added bonus that can boost their self-esteem. Employers who offer "Employee of the Month" bonuses also use these types of programs to reward those who have consistent outstanding performance. Usually those employees are already enthusiastic about their job and are intrinsically motivated because they enjoy what they do.

As you have read, extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation are both important to driving and influencing behavior. In order to get the highest benefits from both, we have to understand the key differences between the two, including, the overall impact each can have our mental health, performance, and daily quality of living.


About the Author: Ty Howard,
Mr. Untie the Knots®,
Freeing Maximal Business, Performance & Human Potential Daily!

Ty Howard is an internationally recognized authority on organizational and managerial practices that optimize employee performance and success. He is the creator and lead facilitator of the trademarked "Untie the Knots® Optimal Performance Process," and the author of Untie the Knots®: Improving Habits, Choices, People, Relationships, Performance and Results, as well as dozens of published articles on employee and organizational performance and development worldwide. For information on his programs and services, visit: http://www.tyhoward.com.


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