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Intrinsic Motivation

 

Explanations > Theories > Intrinsic Motivation

Description | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

Intrinsic motivation is when I am motivated by internal factors, as opposed to the external drivers of extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation drives me to do things just for the fun of it, or because I believe it is a good or right thing to do.

There is a paradox of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is far stronger a motivator than extrinsic motivation, yet external motivation can easily act to displace intrinsic motivation (see the Overjustification Effect).

Deci and Ryan identified three needs that lead to intrinsic motivation:

  • Competence: succeeding in what you do.
  • Relatedness: connecting with others.
  • Autonomy: being in control of your life.

Example

Most people's hobbies are intrinsically motivated. Notice the passion with which people collect little bits of china or build detailed model ships. Few people carry that amount of passion into their workplace.

So what?

Using it

If you can get someone to believe in an idea or align their values with what you want, then you have set very powerful motivation in place. Seek to make them feel good about what you want.

Motivate people at work by ensuring they have autonomy and are given work at which they are competent. Also connect them to the company and others so they feel a part of a social whole.

Also minimize extrinsic motivation. So, for example, pay them fairly, then do everything to keep money out of the equation of why they come to work.

See also

Cognitive Evalution Theory, Extrinsic Motivation, Overjustification Effect, Minimal Justification Principle

References

Deci (1971), Deci (1975), Deci and Ryan (1985)

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