Thursday, June 9, 2011

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Most jobs and circumstances in life involve both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation; but which is the greater motivator? The cognitive evaluation theory implies that internal motivation is more effective in the long run. If a person believes the reason for completing a task is external, such as getting paid, the behavior will decrease when the reward is decreased. This causes internal motivation to decrease. When a task is not dependent on an external reward, then the behavior is under self-control, it is freely chosen, and it is intrinsically motivated. Extrinsic rewards can also undermine intrinsic gratification.
                The video I found, Behavior economics and internal motivation, illustrates the effectiveness of external and internal motivation between manager and employee. It suggests that both present complications, but ultimately internal motivation will result in a better employee.

This is relevant to the resent events that have taken place at the retail store I work at. When I first started working there extrinsic motivators were constantly thrown our way. We were told if we can’t do this or that, then we would be fired. The amount of hours you were given each week was purely based on performance (how well you sold the product). The managers created contests between the associates which resulted in some kind of tangible reward. About a year after I began working for, all of this came to a halt. Work ethic as well as morale greatly decreased in our store. Intrinsic motivation seemed completely absent once the external rewards were taken away.


  1. I agree that Intrinsic motivation can be much stronger then Extrinsic motivation long term. In this video the guy makes a great point about the problems that can occur at work from going from a market style to social style of managing. In social managing there is a fine line between to much and to little autonomy as well as being to friendly or too strict. Managers that are able to balance this social managing style seem to make the best bosses and the best places to work, but it is tricky. I've worked in both social and market place settings and like the social setting better. However I have seen how a social style being to social can also adversely effect the work place. I like how your post and this video show both the good and the bad Megan.

  2. You offered a clear and concise explanation about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The video was worth watching and further enhanced the lesson. As a manager for many years, I incorporated the social aspect in my managing style. I was managing primarily teenagers at a swim club, and in order to bring out the best I created a sense of pride and community among the staff. As well as instilled within them that their hard work to create a safe and clean facility was appreciated by the members who joined the club, and many of the members were neighbors, friends, family members, and people from the local community. The staff took ownership and pride in their work. It was not just about the paycheck it was about their personal reputation and self-respect. If I needed extra help and it was their scheduled day off they would offer to come in and help out. We were like a family working together. These kids were definitely motivated intrinsically, because of the social component that was involved.

  3. Your comment about how "intrinsic motivation seemed completely absent once the external rewards were taken away" at your retail store reminded me of a recent conversation I had with my fiance, who is in elementary education. The conversation started when we were discussing the "need" for so much extrinsic motivation in classrooms today, and how controversial the use of such incentives has become. As she explained it, the reason so many believe the use of external motivators will only result in a temporary fix is because some people, perhaps like your managers, do not properly ween their subjects off extrinsic motivation by introducing and eventually substituting intrinsic motivators instead. For example, she had a student who was earning a starburst for every time he began an assignment without having to be redirected to get started. During the beginning stage she was very generous with the reward (starbursts) so that he would know exactly what he was working for and that he was capable of earning it. However, every time she gave him a starburst it was accompanied with a compliment on how great it is that he got to work so quickly and an explanation about how this will benefit him as a student/person/etc. This way he is beginning to lay the foundation for intrinsic motivation while being currently motivated extrinsically. As time goes on, she explained that she began occasionally only giving her student the verbal praise identifying how his behavior was intrinsically motivating. Gradually she gave out less and less starbursts until the student was totally motivated by the intrinsic rewards of his actions. Based on this, I believe the work ethic and morale would have remained high had your managers not been so abrupt with the removal of external rewards and, more importantly, paired them with intrinsic incentives from the beginning.