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Motivation Module 7:

Extrinsic Motivation


Background Information

Extrinsic motivation is reward-driven behavior. It is a type of operant conditioning, a method of changing behavior by using rewards or punishments to increase or decrease the likelihood of certain actions being repeated. Extrinsic motivation uses rewards (e.g., money, gifts, or special favors) to motivate others for doing or performing the desired action. Although extrinsic motivation often involves tangible rewards, it also occurs through abstract rewards, like praise, promotion, or fame (Meadows-Fernandez, 2018; What are Extrinsic Motivators?, n.d.).


In the context of businesses, extrinsic rewards refer to rewards given to employees that are typically monetary or concrete, like salary increases, bonuses, and perks. These rewards are extrinsic because they are not inherent to the work and are determined by someone other than the employee. There are four categories of extrinsic motivation: external, introjection, regulation through identification, and integrated regulation (Bravo Wellness, 2019; Vallerand, 1997):


i.    External regulation means you do something to satisfy an external demand or receive external incentives. An example would be a student who studies hard to get good grades to receive material rewards from their parents. Although the behavior is intentional, it is controlled by an external source and therefore, this action is externally regulated.


ii.  Introjection regulation involves accepting the cause of doing something. An example would be a student who spends lots of time practicing piano for a recital to avoid embarrassing themselves in front of others. This type of regulation is performed due to internal pressure to reduce guilt or anxiety, enhance ego or pride, or maintain self-esteem or feeling of self-worth.


iii. Regulation through identification is a less controlling form of extrinsic motivation. Identification means the person consciously values a goal and believes the activity is personally important.


iv. Integrated regulation occurs when one has fully accepted the reason for an action, i.e., a person has examined the cause and found it compatible with their own values and needs. Then the action becomes self-initiated and is autonomous and not controlled by external motivators (Ryan R & Deci, 2000). Despite being extrinsic, integrated motivation shares many similar qualities as intrinsic motivation. Some researchers even refer to integrated regulation as intrinsic because the person has completely internalized the extrinsic cause into their values.



Extrinsic motivation can be used to motivate one to do various different things. If there’s a known reward tied to the task or outcome, extrinsic motivation is involved. Following are examples of extrinsic rewards. Write a story where one of the following situations is involved. 

  • competing in sports for trophies 

  • completing work for money 

  • customer loyalty discounts 

  • buy one, get one free sales 

  • frequent flyer rewards 

  • helping people for praise from friends or family 

  • doing work for attention, either positive or negative 

  • doing tasks for public acclaim or fame 

  • doing tasks to avoid judgment 

  • completing coursework for grades 

Write about characters in a story, historical figures, or current scientific events that focus on the extrinsic motivation of the characters. Prompts for the activities follow: 


Prompts for Reading Comprehension 

What outside forces are driving the character? 

                    Why does --- not motivated the character? 

                    How does --- impact what the character loves? 

                    What does --- impact what the character thinks they need? 

                    What does --- impact what the character despises? 


Prompts for Historic Figures 

                    What outside forces pushed this person toward that act? 

                    Why did ----_not push this person to act? 

                    How did ­­­­_impact what this person love more than anything else? 

                    How did ----  impact what the person believe they needed? 

                    Who did ­­­__motivate the character’s enemy? 


 Prompts for Current Events 

                    What forces are pulling the group toward that idea? 

                    Why does---- not motivate the group to act? 

                    How does---  impact what the group wants? 

                    In the view of the group, how does--- impact others? 

                    Why does the group consider--- wrong? 

Note and Notice Activity - Hitting Rock Bottom 

Hitting Rock Bottom involves extrinsic motivation that forces change. It is marked by feelings of having no other choice but to change. The metaphor of hitting rock bottom usually is associated with extreme conditions such as alcoholism and drug addiction. However, this activity can be applied to such classroom scenarios as disruptive behavior or never doing homework or bullying others at which, do to becoming isolated, an individual decides to abandon a  “bad” habit with a new more socially accepted way of behaving. 



Mark each example with E to show Extrinsic and I to show Intrinsic Motivation

___Going to work to get paid

___Studying to get a good grade

___Working because you enjoy the job

___Studying because you find the subject interesting

___Working hard to get a raise or recognition from your boss

___Tackling a new project because you love a challenge

___Tidying your house to avoid feeling embarrassed when company  
comes over


Extrinsic examples- Extrinsic Motivation, Going to work to get paid, Studying to get a good grade, Working hard to get a raise or recognition from your boss, Tidying your house to avoid feeling embarrassed when company comes over

Intrinsic - Working because you enjoy the job, Studying because you find the subject interesting, Tackling a new project because you love a challenge, Tidying your house because a clean home keeps you calm

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