How do the rewards and consequences differ in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation?

August 1, 2023

Motivation plays a vital role in driving human behavior and achieving goals. Two prominent types of motivations that influence our actions are intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. While both forms aim to motivate individuals towards specific objectives, the rewards and consequences associated with each type differ significantly. Intrinsic motivation stems from internal factors, such as personal satisfaction, enjoyment, or a sense of accomplishment, while extrinsic motivation involves external factors such as tangible rewards, praise, or recognition. This essay will delve into the variations between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, focusing on how the associated rewards and consequences shape individual behavior and impact long-term engagement and performance.

Intrinsic Motivation: The Drive Within

Intrinsic motivation refers to the inner desire or internal factors that propel individuals to engage in an activity or pursue a goal. It stems from a genuine interest, enjoyment, or satisfaction derived from the task itself, rather than external rewards or consequences. People who are intrinsically motivated find personal fulfillment, pleasure, or a sense of accomplishment in the activity they are engaged in.

Rewards in Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation thrives on the inherent rewards that come from within. These rewards can manifest in various forms, such as:

  1. Sense of Mastery: Intrinsic motivation often arises from the desire to improve one’s skills, knowledge, or competence in a particular area. The reward, in this case, is the satisfaction derived from gaining mastery over a task or subject.
  2. Autonomy and Control: The ability to have autonomy and control over one’s actions and decisions can be an intrinsic reward. Individuals who are intrinsically motivated often value the freedom to choose how and when to engage in a task, which in turn fuels their motivation.
  3. Personal Growth and Development: Intrinsic motivation is closely linked to personal growth and self-development. The reward lies in the continuous learning, self-improvement, and personal growth that result from engaging in an activity that aligns with one’s interests and values.

Consequences in Intrinsic Motivation

While intrinsic motivation is primarily driven by internal factors, there are also consequences associated with it. However, these consequences are not imposed externally but rather emerge as a natural outcome of the individual’s actions. Some notable consequences in intrinsic motivation include:

  1. Increased Engagement: When individuals are intrinsically motivated, they tend to be more engaged and focused on the task at hand. The consequence of this heightened engagement is often improved performance and a greater sense of satisfaction.
  2. Sustained Effort: Intrinsic motivation can fuel sustained effort and perseverance. Individuals who find genuine enjoyment or fulfillment in an activity are more likely to invest time, energy, and effort into it, leading to continuous progress and growth.
  3. Internal Satisfaction: The ultimate consequence of intrinsic motivation is the internal satisfaction and psychological well-being that individuals experience. The sense of fulfillment and contentment derived from engaging in activities that align with one’s passions and values can have a profound impact on overall happiness and life satisfaction.

Extrinsic Motivation: The External Drive

In contrast to intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation relies on external factors to drive behavior. It involves seeking external rewards or avoiding negative consequences as the primary driving force behind engaging in an activity or pursuing a goal. Extrinsic motivation often stems from the desire for tangible rewards, recognition, or the fear of punishment.

Rewards in Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation heavily relies on external rewards as the driving force behind behavior. Some common examples of rewards in extrinsic motivation include:

  1. Tangible Rewards: External rewards, such as money, gifts, or accolades, are often used to incentivize individuals and reinforce desired behavior. These rewards serve as tangible reinforcements to motivate individuals to perform specific tasks or achieve certain goals.
  2. Social Recognition: Recognition and praise from others can be powerful rewards in extrinsic motivation. The desire for social approval and validation drives individuals to seek recognition or admiration from peers, colleagues, or authority figures.
  3. Status and Power: The pursuit of status, power, or social influence can also act as extrinsic rewards. Some individuals are motivated by the desire to attain a higher social or professional status, which can provide them with external validation and privileges.

Consequences in Extrinsic Motivation

The consequences associated with extrinsic motivation are often tied to external factors and can vary depending on the situation. Some consequences in extrinsic motivation include:

  1. Dependency on External Rewards: Extrinsic motivation relies heavily on external rewards, which can create a dependency on these rewards to sustain motivation. When the rewards are removed or become less desirable, individuals may experience a decline in motivation or disengagement from the task.
  2. Limited Satisfaction: While external rewards can provide temporary satisfaction, they may not necessarily lead to long-term fulfillment or personal growth. The focus on external rewards can sometimes overshadow the intrinsic satisfaction that can be derived from the task itself.
  3. Risk of Burnout: Excessive reliance on extrinsic rewards and consequences can increase the risk of burnout. When individuals are primarily motivated by external factors, they may experience heightened stress, pressure, and a reduced sense of autonomy, which can ultimately lead to burnout.

In conclusion, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation differ in terms of the rewards and consequences associated with each. Intrinsic motivation thrives on the inherent rewards derived from within, such as a sense of mastery, autonomy, and personal growth. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation relies on external rewards, such as tangible rewards, social recognition, and status. While both forms of motivation have their place, understanding the distinct rewards and consequences can help individuals harness the power of motivation effectively in various aspects of their lives.


What is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation refers to engaging in an activity for the inherent satisfaction or enjoyment it brings. It is driven by internal factors such as personal interest, curiosity, or a sense of accomplishment. In contrast, extrinsic motivation involves engaging in an activity to obtain external rewards or avoid punishment. It is driven by external factors such as tangible rewards, praise, or fear of negative consequences.

How do rewards differ in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation?

In intrinsic motivation, rewards are typically derived from within oneself. The satisfaction of accomplishing a task, experiencing personal growth, or finding joy in an activity serves as its own reward. These rewards are not dependent on external factors and can be seen as inherent to the activity itself. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation relies on external rewards. These rewards can include tangible items like money, gifts, or certificates, as well as social rewards such as praise, recognition, or status. In extrinsic motivation, the focus is on obtaining these external rewards rather than the enjoyment or inherent worth of the activity itself.

How do consequences differ in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation?

Consequences in intrinsic motivation are often related to personal feelings of achievement, satisfaction, or self-worth. The consequences are driven by the individual’s own internal evaluation of their performance or progress. Positive consequences may include a sense of fulfillment, increased self-confidence, or a feeling of mastery. Negative consequences in intrinsic motivation are often self-directed, such as disappointment, frustration, or a sense of failure. In contrast, extrinsic motivation relies on external consequences. Positive consequences in extrinsic motivation can be obtaining rewards like praise, recognition, or promotions, while negative consequences may involve receiving punishment, criticism, or loss of privileges. The focus in extrinsic motivation is on the external outcomes rather than the internal evaluation of one’s performance or progress.

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