10 Examples of Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

What do the terms, Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Motivation mean?

Both terms are indeed describing our reasons (motivations) for taking specific actions. Both types of motivation result in an operation being performed for a goal to be accomplished. The work being undertaken in both types of motivation could be the same goal, but it is the reason for performing the action that differs.

10 Examples of Intrinsic v.s Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic Motivation:

  1. Helen works hard at work because she likes her job.
  2. Helen plays golf because she enjoys the game.
  3. Helen plays chess because she loves the mental challenge that chess provides.
  4. Helen takes photographs because she likes to be creative.
  5. Helen dresses smartly because dressing nicely makes her feel good.

Extrinsic Motivation:

  1. Mike works hard at work because he likes to be seen as a hard worker by the management.
  2. Mike plays golf because he likes to win trophies.
  3. Mike plays chess because he believes that people will see him as being a smart guy.
  4. Mike takes photographs to try win photo competitions.
  5. Mike dresses smartly because it’s the best way to get noticed at work for promotion.

Reading through the two lists above, it has probably become clear that Intrinsic Motivation means performing actions because the goal is personally enjoyable and satisfying.  Whereas Extrinsic Motivation means performing actions to gain some kind of reward for taking part. The latter also involves performing activities to avoid punishment, such as working late so as not to be reprimanded by the boss.

Here’s a Short Video Covering What We Know So Far:


At this point, some people are tempted to ask, which of the two types of motivation are the best one?

There is no real winner as such because, for example, Helen will work hard at work just because she enjoys her job and Mike will work hard at work because he wants the managers to see his extra efforts. The companies they both work for both have very hard working employees being Helen and Mike. The one slight negative point may go to Mark as he’ll be more susceptible to stress because he is trying to please others more than himself.

One other downside to Extrinsic Motivation can be when there are no rewards remaining. To explain what I mean by this, let’s look at Mike in five years time. Mike has worked hard and dressed smartly and done all the right things to be noticed by the management, so much so, that Mike is now the very top manager. Mike has no management positions above him. Mike has run out of rewards to fuel his ambitions. This same conclusion is often reached in sales jobs when the employees are perhaps offered a bonus to sell X units within a given period. Once someone has won the gift, the reward has gone, and there is no apparent motive to work harder.

Are Intrinsically Motivated People the Real Winners?

The above paragraphs may appear to make intrinsically motivated people the outright winners in life, but that’s also not always the case. The intrinsically motivated person can struggle when they are given a task to do that they don’t like doing. If Helen was asked to take a course but she hates studying, then her intrinsically motivated approach may fail to give her any motivation at all even if the reward was higher pay. Mike, however, would see the higher pay as a strong reward and even more recognition from his managers.

There is no ‘winner’ regarding which type of motivation is the best. Both types of motivation very often fit very nicely with the personality traits of the people involved. Being aware of both types, however, may make you analyze whether you are a Helen or a Mike?

Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Motivation

Do You Tend To Use Intrinsic Motivation or Extrinsic Motivation In Your Own Life? Comment Below…