What is Extrinsic Motivation and How Does it Work?

Some employees are self-motivated. Others require a certain gift or a reward to keep their motivation game strong. The motivation that is driven by external rewards such as promotion, money, fame or praise is termed as extrinsic motivation. Opposed to intrinsic motivation that generates on the inside, extrinsic motivation usually generates from the outside of the individual. 

What Is Extrinsic Motivation? 

Why do you work and perform at your job? Is it because you want to earn better and get a promotion? Then your motivation to work is more extrinsic in nature. On the other hand, if your motivation to work is to learn something new, then your motivation is more intrinsic in nature. 

Even when the task is not interesting, people still continue to perform an action because it is rewarding. For example, a person who works at a plant might perform a number of routine tasks repetitively even though they aren’t fun. 

Reason: It’s because he’s getting a good extrinsic reward from it. By the end of each month, he gets a handsome salary for doing that job and he is also more likely to gain promotion in the coming days. 

Here’s another example to clear up your concept more. 

What do you do when you want somebody to manage tasks that are annoying? 

How about getting your child tutored even though you know how obnoxious he/she is? So, you hire a tutor who starts educating your child and soon he learns that it is hard to get by. He wants to quit his job at tutoring your kid because he/she saps him out of energy. You already work tirelessly at the job and can’t handle more on your plate, so what do you do? You offer the tutor a bonus incentive. 

Such bonuses result in creating a special kind of motivation that compels them to do things they are not interested in doing. Extrinsic motivation is something purely created from outside rewards.  

What Kind of Rewards Does Extrinsic Motivation Involve? 

As far as the rewards are concerned, there are two types of rewards associated with extrinsic motivation. One is the psychological reward while the other is a tangible reward. Tangible rewards are more monetary in nature and involve winning at something. Monetary rewards usually involve money or a trophy or a promotion. People often find themselves working on tasks that they normally don’t find interesting. They do it because they are getting paid. 

On the contrary, psychological rewards tend to work differently. In such a reward system, the individual is mainly searching for praise or public acclaim. It is to strengthen his/her position among the public. For instance, an employee may spend an extra hour working at the office to be known as an efficient worker. A child may clean up his room just to become the star candidate in the eyes of his/her parent. And an actor might perform exceptionally in a play to get cheered. 

In both of these rewards, the end results are the same. Stay motivated through achieving something. 

Is Extrinsic Motivation Effective? 

Yes, extrinsic motivation is highly effective. Take a look at all the examples in your own life. Are you doing a job that you don’t appreciate but you’re still doing it? Do you clean your house often or prepare good meals for the family? What is the purpose behind doing it all? 

Everybody wants something to feel motivated. You might shop with a loyalty card in order to gain points, or earn discounts and win prizes. Or you might use a certain credit card to purchase because it offers you a certain discount at the store, All of these are examples of performing specific behaviors in order to obtain an external reward. 

Beware! Extrinsic Motivation at Times BackFire

While offering rewards can sometimes increase motivation, researchers have observed that it can even decrease motivation. By offering too many rewards, individuals can experience decreased intrinsic motivation. When intrinsic motivation contradicts with extrinsic motivation, we term it as the overjustification effect. For example, when you give an employee a car who was actively performing, the reward or sense of achievement makes him more sluggish at doing the things he intended to. 

As a result, he/she becomes less productive and the rewarding get back-fired at your own business. 

Activities which initially feel like a play or fun can ultimately transform into an obligation. They are a great tool for motivating behavior but it should be timed right and would be proceeded with caution.  

One thought on “What is Extrinsic Motivation and How Does it Work?

  • January 7, 2020 at 4:43 pm

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