Different Types of Rewards That Can Influence Motivation

July 8, 2023

Motivation plays a crucial role in driving individuals towards their goals and achieving success. Various factors contribute to motivation, and one of the most influential elements is rewards. Rewards have the power to enhance motivation by providing individuals with incentives for their efforts and accomplishments. Understanding the different types of rewards is essential as they can vary in their impact on motivation. This article will explore the various types of rewards that can influence motivation, including intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, financial incentives, recognition and praise, and personal development opportunities. By delving into these different reward categories, we can gain insight into how they impact individuals’ motivation levels, allowing us to better understand and harness the power of rewards in various contexts.


Motivation plays a crucial role in driving individuals to achieve their goals and perform at their best. While intrinsic motivation, which originates from within oneself, is often hailed as the most desirable form of motivation, extrinsic rewards can also be powerful motivators. In this article, we will explore the different types of rewards that can influence motivation and examine how they impact individuals’ drive and performance.

The Power of Extrinsic Rewards

Extrinsic rewards are external incentives that are provided to individuals as a result of their performance or behavior. These rewards can take various forms, ranging from tangible items such as money or gifts to intangible benefits such as recognition, praise, or advancement opportunities. While some may argue that extrinsic rewards undermine intrinsic motivation, research suggests that when used strategically, they can effectively enhance motivation and performance.

Tangible Rewards

Tangible rewards are concrete and physical items that individuals receive in recognition of their achievements or efforts. These rewards can range from financial incentives such as bonuses or salary increases to material possessions like a new car or a luxury vacation. Tangible rewards can be highly motivating, especially when they are perceived as valuable and directly linked to performance. They provide individuals with a sense of accomplishment and can serve as a tangible representation of their achievements.

Key takeaway: Different types of rewards, including tangible rewards, intangible rewards, social rewards, and intrinsic rewards, can influence motivation. These rewards can enhance individuals’ drive and performance and should be used strategically to maximize their effectiveness.

Financial Incentives

One of the most common types of tangible rewards is financial incentives. Money has long been recognized as a powerful motivator, as it can fulfill various needs and desires. Financial rewards can take the form of bonuses, commissions, profit-sharing, or salary increases. The prospect of earning more money can incentivize individuals to work harder, achieve higher targets, or take on additional responsibilities. However, it’s important to note that the effectiveness of financial incentives may vary depending on the individual’s financial situation, personal values, and the nature of the task or job.

Material Possessions

Material possessions, such as luxury items or coveted merchandise, can also serve as motivating rewards. These rewards tap into individuals’ desire for status, recognition, and the satisfaction of owning something desirable. For example, a salesperson may be motivated to exceed their targets in order to earn a luxury watch or a designer handbag. Material rewards can be particularly effective when they are aligned with individuals’ personal preferences and aspirations.

Intangible Rewards

While tangible rewards have their merits, intangible rewards can also be powerful motivators. These rewards are non-physical in nature and often revolve around recognition, praise, and opportunities for growth and advancement. Intangible rewards tap into individuals’ psychological needs and can have a profound impact on their motivation and engagement.

Recognition and Praise

One of the most effective forms of intangible rewards is recognition and praise. Being acknowledged for one’s accomplishments and efforts can boost self-esteem, enhance feelings of competence, and reinforce positive behaviors. Recognition can take various forms, including public acknowledgment, awards, certificates, or even a simple heartfelt “thank you.” When individuals feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to be motivated to continue performing at a high level.

Opportunities for Growth and Advancement

Another form of intangible reward that can influence motivation is the opportunity for growth and advancement. This reward taps into individuals’ desire for personal development, learning, and career progression. Opportunities for growth can include additional training, mentorship programs, challenging assignments, or promotions. When individuals see a clear path for advancement and feel supported in their professional development, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work.

Social Rewards

Humans are inherently social beings, and social rewards can play a significant role in influencing motivation. Social rewards involve positive interactions, social connection, and a sense of belonging. These rewards can be particularly powerful as they tap into individuals’ need for social validation and approval.

Positive Feedback and Encouragement

Positive feedback and encouragement from others can be highly motivating. When individuals receive praise, compliments, or constructive feedback, they feel acknowledged and valued by others. This feedback serves as a social reward, reinforcing positive behaviors and promoting motivation. Whether it’s a manager recognizing an employee’s hard work or a teacher praising a student’s effort, positive feedback can significantly impact motivation and drive.

Collaboration and Teamwork

Collaboration and teamwork can also serve as social rewards. Working together towards a common goal and experiencing a sense of camaraderie can create a supportive and motivating environment. When individuals feel connected to their colleagues, they are more likely to be motivated to contribute their best efforts and work collaboratively towards success.

Intrinsic Rewards

While extrinsic rewards can be powerful motivators, it’s essential not to overlook the importance of intrinsic rewards. Intrinsic rewards stem from within oneself and are driven by a sense of personal fulfillment, enjoyment, and satisfaction. These rewards are often associated with tasks or activities that individuals find inherently interesting, challenging, or meaningful.

Personal Fulfillment and Satisfaction

The sense of personal fulfillment and satisfaction that individuals derive from engaging in meaningful work can be a powerful intrinsic reward. When individuals find their work purposeful, aligned with their values, and personally fulfilling, their motivation is likely to be high. This intrinsic reward is particularly important for individuals who are driven by a sense of purpose and the desire to make a meaningful impact.

Mastery and Skill Development

The pursuit of mastery and skill development can also be an intrinsic reward. When individuals have the opportunity to continuously learn and improve their skills, they experience a sense of growth and accomplishment. The satisfaction that comes from mastering a challenging task or acquiring new knowledge can be highly motivating and can fuel individuals’ intrinsic motivation.

FAQs: What are the different types of rewards that can influence motivation?

What is the role of rewards in motivating individuals?

Rewards play a crucial role in motivating individuals by providing them with incentives and recognition for their efforts and achievements. When presented appropriately, rewards can promote a sense of satisfaction, increase self-confidence, and drive individuals to continue their actions or work towards a particular goal.

What are tangible rewards?

Tangible rewards are physical or material items given to individuals as a form of recognition or achievement. Examples of tangible rewards include monetary bonuses, gifts, prizes, or certificates. These rewards provide individuals with something concrete that they can perceive, which can significantly impact their motivation and encourage them to perform better.

What are intangible rewards?

Intangible rewards are non-physical stimuli or outcomes that promote motivation. They do not involve physical objects but rather focus on internal feelings or psychological benefits. Examples include praise, positive feedback, public recognition, increased responsibility, promotion opportunities, or a sense of accomplishment. Intangible rewards can have a profound impact on an individual’s motivation as they address their emotional and psychological needs.

How do financial rewards influence motivation?

Financial rewards involve giving money to individuals for their efforts, such as salary raises, performance-based bonuses, or profit-sharing. Financial rewards can be a strong motivator for individuals, as they provide immediate and tangible benefits. They can enhance job satisfaction, create a sense of security, and increase the perception of fairness and equity in the workplace.

Can social rewards affect motivation?

Yes, social rewards can significantly influence motivation. Social rewards include recognition from peers or superiors, praise, appreciation, or opportunities for social interaction. Humans are inherently social beings, and positive social interactions can have a strong impact on an individual’s motivation. Social rewards can foster a sense of belonging, validation, and enhance the overall well-being of individuals, thus positively influencing their motivation.

What is the role of intrinsic rewards in motivation?

Intrinsic rewards are internally driven and are derived from personal satisfaction, enjoyment, or a sense of accomplishment. They stem from performing tasks that individuals find meaningful or pleasurable. Intrinsic rewards can include personal growth, learning opportunities, intellectual stimulation, or a sense of autonomy and mastery. While external rewards can be effective short-term motivators, fostering intrinsic rewards is essential for long-term sustainable motivation and engagement.

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