Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Motivation with
Examples of Each Type of Motivation
Motivation is an important concept in psychology. It provides insight into why we may
behave the way we do. Motivation is an internal process that reflects the desire to achieve
certain goals. Motivation can be divided into two basic types: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic
What is intrinsic motivation? Intrinsic motivation reflects the desire to do something
because it is enjoyable. If we are intrinsically motivated, we would not be worried about
external rewards such as praise or awards. If we are intrinsically motivated, the enjoyment we
experience would be sufficient for us to want to perform the activity in the future.
Examples of Intrinsic Motivation
Writing short stories because you really enjoy writing them, reading a nonfiction book
because you are curious about the topic, and playing chess because you enjoy effortful thinking
are some intrinsic motivation examples.
What is extrinsic motivation? Extrinsic motivation reflects the desire to do something
because of external rewards such as awards, money, and praise. People who are extrinsically
motivated may not enjoy certain activities. They may only wish to engage in certain activities
because they wish to receive some external reward.
Examples of Extrinsic Motivation
There are many possible extrinsic motivation examples. The writer who only writes poems
to be submitted to poetry contests would be one example of extrinsic motivation. The person
who dislikes sales but accepts a sales position because he or she desires to earn an above
average salary is another example of extrinsic motivation. A third example of extrinsic
motivation is selecting a major in college based on salary and prestige, rather than personal
interest in the major.
The Possible Benefits of Intrinsic Motivation
Teachers may be very interested in fostering intrinsic movitation. If students are only
interested in receiving grades or praise, and do not enjoy learning, then teaching may be very
difficult. Students may not wish to think or apply their knowledge. They may only be
concerned with what will be on the tests. In contrast, students who are intrinsically motivated
may enjoy challenging work, and may think in greater depth about ideas. Teachers may be
able to foster intrinsic motivation by having students work on projects that allow them to see
how the information is relevant to their lives.
Supervisors may also be interested in ways to increase intrinsic motivation. The ideal
employee may be one who is self-motivated and does not require constant supervision.
Intrinsically motivated employees may be less likely to be late. They also may be more likely
to excel at their jobs. It is possible that supervisors may increase intrinsic motivation by
allowing employees to have greater autonomy, making the workplace fun, or encouraging
1. Below are two articles on this website concerning motivating employees:
Open Mike Events: Motivating Employees with Music and Humor in the Workplace
Increasing Job Meaning and Employee Motivation with Greater Job Autonomy