Extrinsic motivation: definition, characteristics and effects

Motivation is that force that drives people to carry out any type of activity or to start and maintain all proposed projects.. This motivation acts at the same time at the professional or academic level, like the opening of an exam; as in the personal area, for example starting a weight loss diet.

To achieve these goals, the person relies on a number of motivations which can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Throughout this article, it will be explained what extrinsic motivation is, as well as the differences it has with intrinsic motivation and what stages a person goes through through this type of motivation.

Related article: “Types of motivation: 8 sources of motivation”

What is extrinsic motivation?

Extrinsic motivation refers to the type of motivation in which the reasons that cause a person to perform a certain job or activity lie outside of them; or the like, are subject to contingencies or external factors.

In this type of motivation, the incentives or reinforcements, both positive and negative, are external and beyond the person’s control. Therefore, it is meant as an extrinsic motivation all those kinds of prizes or rewards that we get or are given to us for performing a task or a certain task.

The prime example of external motivation is the salary that a person receives in exchange for his work.. Another example may be the rewards or prizes parents give their children in return for their academic achievement.

Finally, another less material example is that of the compliments and accolades that a person can receive after completing a task successfully.

However, in most cases where the motivation is exclusively extrinsic, there is a decrease in performance regardless of the target area. Extrinsic motivation is therefore not a good ally for long-term projects.

External rewards deviate from the motivation of the person that really matters: intrinsic motivation. It is proven that when a person starts an activity or task motivated by internal factors and later external rewards are added to him, efficiency and productivity decrease over time. The explanation is simple, something that begins with the simple pleasure of doing an activity ends up being seen as an obligation and not enjoyed in the same way.

However, this does not imply that extrinsic motivation is harmful. The feeling after receiving a reward or reward for a job well done is always pleasant and enjoyable, but it should not end up replacing the satisfaction or pleasure that the activity itself provides.

Differences between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation

As mentioned above, there is another type of motivation other than extrinsic and it is this motivation that arises from within the person.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are two completely disparate forms of motivation, but they have in common that they can both present in a positive or negative way and are likely to exert both effects on a person’s performance.

The following explains what these types of positive and negative motivation are:

1. Positive motivation

In this type of motivation, the person initiates, directs and supports his action with the intention of obtaining some kind of reward.. In extrinsic motivation this can be an economic reward or reward and in intrinsic motivation the self-satisfaction or satisfaction that the own task brings to the individual. These rewards act as behavior reinforcers.

2. Negative motivation

In these cases, the person initiates or maintains a behavior or activity with the aim of avoiding or evading a consequence that he considers unpleasant. When this negative consequence comes from the outside, you can try to avoid some kind of punishment, while when it comes from the inside, it is possible that what the person is trying to avoid is a feeling of frustration in the face. to a possible failure.

Regarding the main differences between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation has its origin in the same person performing the activity and extrinsic motivation is caused by factors or agents external to him.

There are a number of factors that influence motivation, in the case of intrinsic motivation, this is determined by internal agents such as interest, satisfaction, self-realization or internal needs.. Moreover, when the motivation comes from within, the person is able to hold this spirit for longer which is why this type of motivation is so important.

Meanwhile, in extrinsic motivation, the person expects some kind of external gratification, retribution or recognition. Among the elements at the origin of this motivation are external pressure, the need for recognition or the need for social support.

Likewise, the two forms of motivation can appear both together and independently and can be used in any field in which the person has to perform a behavior, task or activity for a specific purpose. Either a productive boss (production of a company) or a personal boss (weight loss).

Extrinsic motivation phases

According to a theory developed by researchers Deci and Ryan in 1985, there are a number of stages or stages through which the person can go through a phase in which the motivation is purely external, At a final stage in which it is able to integrate and assume the purpose of its activity as head office.

However, not all of these steps are required. That is, a person can start at stage 3 and evolve or stay in a state constantly.

1. External motivation

In this first step, motivation is completely determined by external factors. The person has no control over him and only performs the task by external request and while waiting for a gratuity.

2. Introjected motivation

In this second case, the objective remains to respond to a request made from outsideBut the reward or satisfaction is internal. This motivation is linked to self-esteem, to self-realization, but the person still does not have absolute control.

3. Motivation regulated by identification

In this third step, the person maintains their behavior or performs the task for reasons that are external to them.. However, he still has more autonomy and sufficiency to make decisions around the reward.

4. Motivation for integration

This is the last stage in which motivation is practically intrinsic. At this point, the person incorporates the goal as their own. However, it cannot be qualified as intrinsic since the activity is not carried out for the simple satisfaction of carrying it out. However, compared to the rest of the steps, this is where the person performs better..

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