Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation: Meaning, Examples & Key Differences

Last Update on June 7, 2021 : Published on June 7, 2021
Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

What makes us reach our goals? What drives us to work harder to achieve success?

Motivation is one of the key factors that drive us to achieve our goals and reach success – whatever that might be. But when we talk about motivation – what comes to your mind?

For me, motivation to continue reading the book I started after I finish work drives me to complete my tasks on time. Sometimes, to see my family smile after I make their favorite cake is my motivation to bake.

These examples I gave you define intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation in a nutshell. In the first instance, my motivation is extrinsic and in the other instance, my motivation is intrinsic.

Let’s delve deeper into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

What Is Intrinsic Motivation?

What Is Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is the type of motivation that drives us to engage in an activity or act a certain way because we enjoy reaping the rewards. We behave or engage in an activity not to earn a reward or we feel obligated to do so but because we enjoy doing it.

One of the intrinsic motivation examples can be; I play basketball because I enjoy playing the sport, not because I want to participate in or win a competition. Another example of intrinsic motivation can be; learning a new language, not because your work or academics demand it but because you find the language challenging and fascinating.

What Is Extrinsic Motivation?

Extrinsic motivation is the type of motivation that drives us to perform an activity because we want a reward or because we are obligated to do so. When you engage in an activity or behave a certain way because you expect something in return can be termed extrinsic motivation.

One of the extrinsic motivation examples can be; playing a sport not because you enjoy playing it but because you want to win a competition or tournament. Another example of extrinsic motivation can be; cleaning your room, not to keep your space clean but because you fear reprimand or punishment.

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

We can differentiate intrinsic and extrinsic motivation based on the following parameters:

1. Focus

Intrinsic motivation focuses solely on what is important to you and which you have complete control over. Intrinsic motivation makes an individual act based on their interest and will while extrinsic motivation focuses on the outcome. Extrinsic motivation makes an individual act based on an obligation or the need to obtain something akin to a reward or prize.

2. Aim

The aim of intrinsic motivation is on developing and satisfying an individual while also focusing on exploring other abilities. While the aim of extrinsic motivation is on achieving a certain reward or avoiding a confrontation or a negative result.

3. Satisfaction

Intrinsic motivation plays a great role in satisfying a person’s basic needs such as independence, happiness, joy. However, extrinsic motivation does not satisfy the basic psychological needs of a person but focuses on accepting benefits such as fame, money, etc.

4. Driven By

In intrinsic motivation, a person is driven by their desires and needs to accomplish a task. In extrinsic motivation, a person is driven by external sources such as monetary rewards or an obligation placed on them by someone else to complete a task.

5. Emphasis

Intrinsic motivation places a great emphasis on enjoyment of the task rather than rewards, prize, or appreciation. The latter is emphasized in extrinsic motivation.

Read: No Motivation to do anything! 21 ways to Find Motivation in life

Using Extrinsic Motivation

Using Extrinsic Motivation

In simpler words, intrinsic motivation comes from the inside while extrinsic motivation comes from an external or outside source. Both motivations have their benefits and drawbacks. For instance, extrinsic motivation can be helpful when you are asked to do something you don’t particularly enjoy but want to share the reward.

Offering external rewards to do something might not always be the best course of action, however, if you’re hesitant to finish homework or a tedious task, external rewards can be placed to motivate yourself into completing your task.

Appropriately used and placed external rewards may help an individual increase their performance, creativity, and productivity.

Final Words

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation drives us to focus on our goals. While there are several key factors that we can use to differentiate between the two, we need to consider the use of the type of motivation depending on the situation in which we think it can be effective.

I hope this information helped you understand intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation and where each can be beneficial. For more, you can always write to us at or follow us on social media!

Keep smiling and take care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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