Intrinsic Motivation: The Impact of Internal Reward Driving Behavior

Intrinsic Motivation: The Impact of Internal Reward Driving Behavior
Written by The X Cube

Intrinsic motivation is defined as the motivation to perform a behavior because of the inherent satisfaction of the activity rather than the desire for a specific reward or outcome. According to Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior Using Concept Maps, intrinsic motivation occurs when we act without any obvious external reward: “We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn, and fulfill our potential.”

The three main components of intrinsic motivation are autonomy, purpose, and mastery. People are intrinsically motivated when they can act independently, feel their efforts are valued, and gain satisfaction as they become more skilled.

Intrinsic motivation can be contrasted with extrinsic motivation, which involves engaging in behavior to gain external rewards or avoid punishment.

What are examples of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation?

Think for a moment about your motivations for reading this article. If you are reading it because you are interested in psychology and simply want to learn more about the topic of motivation, then you are acting on intrinsic motivation.

If you are reading this article because you have to learn information from class and want to avoid getting a bad grade, you are acting on extrinsic motivation.

How does intrinsic motivation work?

When was the last time you did something to enjoy the activity itself? There are several activities that fall under this category. For example, you could plant a garden, draw a picture, play a game, write a story, go for a walk, or read a book. It may or may not produce anything or provide a reward. Instead, we love what we do that’s why keep doing it. They make us happy.

When you do an activity for pure pleasure, you do it because you have intrinsic motivation. Their motivations for engaging in such behavior arise entirely from within and not from a desire to obtain some sort of external reward, such as awards, money, or praise.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that intrinsically motivated behaviors don’t come with their own rewards. These rewards are intended to create positive feelings within the individual.

Activities can generate these feelings when you give them meaning, such as participating in volunteer or church activities. It can also give you a sense of progress when you see your work accomplishing something positive, or competence when you learn something new or become more skilled at a task.

The effect of external reinforcement.

Researchers have found that offering external rewards or additions to an activity that is already internally rewarded can make the activity less rewarding. This phenomenon is called the over justification effect.

“A person’s intrinsic enjoyment of an activity provides sufficient justification for his behavior,” explains author Richard Griggs in his book Psychology: A Brief Introduction.

“When external reinforcement is added, the individual may view the task as very real and then try to find his or her true motivation (extrinsic vs. intrinsic) to engage in understanding the activity,” Griggs wrote.

People tend to be more creative when they are intrinsically motivated.

In work environments, for example, productivity can be increased through the use of external rewards, such as a bonus. However, there are substantial factors that affect the actual quality of work performed. If you are doing something rewarding, interesting, and challenging, you are more likely to come up with new ideas and creative solutions.

Intrinsic motivation in your life

Intrinsic motivation can drive behavior in all aspects of life, especially in education, sports, careers, and personal events.

In education

Intrinsic motivation is an important topic in education. Educators and instructional designers strive to develop learning environments that have intrinsic value. Unfortunately, many traditional models suggest that most students find learning boring, so they need to engage in educational activities.

In a book chapter titled “Making Learning Fun: A Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivations for Learning,” authors Thomas Malone and Mark Lepper point out that this does not have to be the case. They recognize the many different ways to create learning environments that have intrinsic value

An activity is motivated primarily “if people do it for themselves, not to obtain some external reward or avoid external punishment.” The words fun, interesting, engaging, enjoyable and intrinsically stimulating are used to describe such activities.

On a personal adventure

There are many examples of intrinsic motivation in everyday life. If you exercise because you enjoy it and not to win prizes or competitions, you are responding to an intrinsic motivation.

Another example: You try to do your best at work because your tasks and mission bring you fulfillment and fulfillment, regardless of external factors such as salary and benefits.

Maybe you have a beautiful garden because you enjoy planting it and watching it grow, not because the neighbors will complain if your garden is dirty. Or perhaps dressing stylishly as a way to express yourself and your interest in fashion, rather than drawing attention to yourself. When you do something “just for yourself,” you are responding to an intrinsic motivation.

Factors that affect intrinsic motivation

Malone and Lepper identify these factors as increasing intrinsic motivation:

  • Challenge: People are most motivated when they pursue goals that are personally meaningful and when the goal is achievable but not necessarily certain. These goals can be linked to their self-confidence when feedback on their performance is available.
  • Control: People want control over themselves and their environment and want to define what they seek.
  • Cooperation and competition: Intrinsic motivation can increase in situations where people gain satisfaction from helping others. This also applies to situations where they can compare their performance favorably with that of others.
  • Curiosity: Intrinsic motivation increases when something in the physical environment attracts an individual’s attention (sensory curiosity). It also occurs when something in the activity stimulates a person to want to learn more (cognitive curiosity).
  • Recognition: People enjoy recognition from others for their achievements, which can increase intrinsic motivation.

Potential obstacles that affect intrinsic motivation

Experts note that offering unnecessary rewards may have unexpected costs. While we would like to think that offering a reward will improve a person’s motivation, interest, and performance, this is not always the case.

When children are rewarded for playing with toys they already enjoy, their enjoyment of those toys and their motivation to continue playing with them actually decreases.

It is important to note, however, that a number of factors can influence whether extrinsic rewards increase or decrease intrinsic motivation. The importance or importance of the event itself often plays a decisive role.

An athlete competing in a sporting event may view the winner’s award as an affirmation of competence and exceptionalism. On the other hand, some athletes may view the same reward as a form of bribery or coercion.

How an individual views the importance of different features of an event influences whether a reward will influence his or her intrinsic motivation to engage in that activity.


In your own life, there are probably many things you do that are motivated by intrinsic motivation. These are important elements for a balanced life. If we spend all our time working to earn money, we may miss out on the simple joys of life. Realizing and balancing your intrinsic and extrinsic motivations can be very rewarding.

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The X Cube

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