What is Intrinsic Motivation in Psychology: Definition and Examples

Last Update on June 1, 2021 : Published on June 1, 2021

Motivation, the driving force behind an action. The force which helps us move gives meaning to life and maybe sometimes makes us achieve great feats. The action may or may not have any consequences but that’s a story for another article.

Have you heard about Intrinsic Motivation? No?

What is Intrinsic Motivation? Is there any other type? Which one is the better one?

These are some of the questions which I will try to cover under this article. I hope that by the end of the article you will have a clear picture and understanding of what I am trying to convey.

Let’s start:

What is Intrinsic Motivation?

Intrinsic motivation can be defined through the words of “Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior With Concept Maps”

“Intrinsic motivation occurs when we act without any obvious external rewards. We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn, and actualize our potentials”.

In simple words, such actions which are motivated by internal content are said to come under Intrinsic Motivation.

What is Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic Motivation is an interesting topic for psychologists, as it has many benefits. For example, if you are going to the gym daily and working out. Why are you doing it? Are you doing it because you will have a healthy body and healthy life or are you doing it to get a good-looking body just to show off?

Similarly, if you are reading a book, why are you reading it? To enjoy the story, to feel content, to gain knowledge? Or to boast among your peers that you have read such and such books? You must understand that the intent directly affects the content.

How does Intrinsic Motivation Impact Differently?

How does Intrinsic Motivation impact differently

When you tend to work or pursue something just for the pleasure and enjoyment of doing it then the effects and impacts are different when compared to otherwise.

If you do something because you love doing it or because you believe that you will become better through it then this kind of intent heightens the satisfaction levels. They also enhance the level of positivity in a person. Activities like these can also enhance the level of creativity and productivity.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation: How Both are Related?

How Extrinsic Motivation can impact Intrinsic Motivation

When we talk about Intrinsic motivation, we just can’t miss out on the other type, which is Extrinsic Motivation. Many times, we see people operating only on extrinsic motivation and not on intrinsic, it may be due to financial pressure, depression, peer pressure, anxiety, etc. which can lead a person to do something which is of little or no interest.

So does that mean that a person can’t work motivated if he is not doing something according to his interest? The answer to this question can vary. At times yes and vice versa. If a person mentally and emotionally embraces a task or an activity, then he can perform well in just about any situation.

Accepting mentally and emotionally here means, accepting the fact that this task in one way or another offers an opportunity to learn and grow. If a person keeps an attitude that is not healthy then even the task that intrigues him may not help him to grow.

Also if a person is enjoying the task and growing through it then he is enjoying sufficient justification but if he is getting extrinsically awarded for it, then it can actually decrease the sense of fulfillment. This decrease is known by psychologists as the Overjustification Effect.

Overjustification Effect:

In the words of Richard A. Griggs, overjustification can be defined as “A person’s intrinsic enjoyment of activity provides sufficient justification for their behavior, With the addition of extrinsic reinforcement, the person may perceive the task as over justified and then attempt to understand their true motivation (extrinsic versus intrinsic) for engaging in the activity”.

So overjustification can also have some serious effects on the psychology of a person. It can reduce productivity and lead to decreased interest, low motivation levels, etc. It can also decrease the quality of the thought process.

How to Get Intrinsic Motivation?

Intrinsic motivation is an important topic that teachers should develop in their students. The habits should be inculcated in the young generation from the start. The traditional ways of teaching should be revised and developed accordingly.

Schools can try to focus on these points to develop Intrinsic Motivation and not only schools but even elders can follow them. They sound quite simple, but many people may find them hard to follow in their daily routines.

1. Create a Challenging Environment:

Create a Challenging Environment

When capabilities are challenged, it is in human nature to move out of the comfort zone to achieve out-of-the-box feats. When people have something personal related to a task then the act of pursuing is more tenacious.

2. Develop Curiosity:

Develop Curiosity

To play with a student’s attention is what a teacher can do best. When a person becomes curious about something then it is only a matter of time before he or she achieves it.

3. Care and Caution:

Care and Caution

When a baby is in the cradle, parents need to take special care and precautions while bringing up similarly teachers need to take care of the thought process and direction of motivation when it is sown in little kids.

4. Recognize Achievements:

Recognize Achievements

Recognition of even the small achievements and task completion can boost the motivation levels by manifold. Also, remember not to overdo it since you don’t want it to backfire. So keep it subtle and keep going.

With this all being said, I guess I have made my points. I was also struggling with my regularity at the gym and I was quite frustrated because of it. I wanted to go to the gym to shape my body because all of my friends were talking about it all the time. The hard truth, I failed to continue again and again.

I read somewhere

“if you also continue to fail, it does not mean that you lack motivation and it certainly does not mean that you are incapable. But it may be possible that you have been running on the wrong fuel(Fuel being motivation here). If you want to break this cycle and be dedicated and consistent about it then go to gym because you feel it is necessary for your body, because it will make you healthy, because it will help you and nothing else. Do it for yourself and no one else”.

I tried and surprisingly, I went straight for 6 months, which was not even 8 days before. So try again once more but with a change in intent. Take time, sort out your thoughts, breathe and calm down. Take your step. Begin and work on yourself, for yourself.

Thanks for reading! Do let us know if you come across any problems while trying this out. Would love to help. Signing off.

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