Healthy Living

What Is Extrinsic Motivation?

What Is Extrinsic Motivation?


Extrinsic motivation is defined as a reward-driven behavior and is considered as a type of operant conditioning, which is a form of behavior modification that would make use of rewards and punishments. When we talk about extrinsic motivation, it involves the use of rewards or other forms of incentives, such as money, praise, or fame. All or one of these rewards can be used as part of the motivation for a specific kind of behavior.

Extrinsic motivation is not the same as intrinsic motivation since there are numerous external factors that can affect an extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation occurs when the internal factors or forces, such as personal growth or the desire of people to succeed fuel them to complete a given task. One can view intrinsic motivation as a very powerful form of incentive for behavior that needs long-term execution.

The use of extrinsic motivation for businesses can help people start their own business. One of the main reasons to start a business is thinking about offering better goods or services than others in the same line of business. While most individuals are motivated by the income they earn, there are also cases wherein people are motivated by the prestige or honor that comes along with owning a business.

There is also a possibility for people in a certain business not to have any extrinsic motivation. To address the absence of such motivation, the company can use techniques to encourage their employees. A good example would be providing training, development, and promotion to their employees.  

Difference Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Motivation refers to certain factors that can activate, guide, and sustain goal-directed behavior. Without proper motivation, an individual would not have an inspiration to move ahead with the task and accomplish it. Motivation is further divided into intrinsic and extrinsic.

  • Intrinsic Motivation: This type of motivation involves taking some of the action for the sake of enjoying it or for satisfaction purposes. Few of the examples would include going to school on a daily basis with the motivation to enjoy as well as learn new things.
  • Extrinsic Motivation: Refers to carrying out certain actions to obtain an outcome or a certain kind of reward. It does not necessarily involve fun while carrying out a task, but instead, a person's motivation is based on something he or she will receive after accomplishing the task. 

An intrinsic motivation is based on internal factors, while an extrinsic motivation is dependent on external factors.

Types of Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation mainly relies on the factors that come from outside yourself. Forms of extrinsic motivation include performance-related goals, salary increase, bonuses, and recognition awards. Extrinsic motivation is also said to be driven by the failure or fear of getting punished.


Business organizations are known to make use of extrinsic motivation and a performance-driven reward system to provide motivation as well as energy to their employees. Some of the common forms of extrinsic motivation would include providing pay increases, additional time off from work, and other kinds of benefits.

Businesses can also introduce a performance management system to achieve a maximum amount of efficiency from their employees. By offering employees extrinsic reward systems, motivation is improved, performance is increased, and a competitive attitude is maintained. 


  • Increased output or production
  • Increased financial opportunities 
  • Improvement in the overall business operations


Extrinsic motivation is often used to motivate people to do a variety of things. Below are some examples of external extrinsic rewards:

  • Earning money after completing a task
  • Entering sports competitions for trophies or medals
  • Buy one, get one free promotion
  • Frequent flyer rewards
  • Customer loyalty discounts

Psychological extrinsic rewards may include:

  • Coursework completion for grades
  • Accomplishing tasks to avoid being judged
  • Accomplishing tasks for fame or public acclaim
  • Doing work for either positive or negative attention
  • Helping other people to be praised by family and friends

Is extrinsic motivation really effective?

Extrinsic motivation may turn out to be effective for some people. There are also particular situations that are suited for this type of motivation. For some individuals, getting external rewards effectively motivates them to produce high-quality work, while others find value-based benefits more motivating. 

An extrinsic motivation can be occasionally used to avoid losing its impact. The value of rewards can be decreased if rewards are frequently given. This is regarded as the overjustification effect, in which people lose interest in the reward because it is given so often. It is also possible for extrinsic motivation to have long-term negative effects since it often depends on how it is used. Extrinsic motivation becomes an effective method when it is used as an addition to other forms of motivation. 


A major disadvantage of using extrinsic motivation is a decreasing value of rewards and knowing what to do when the reward is gone. Reward dependency may also arise. 

Can extrinsic motivation help in parenting?

There have been very few studies that explored the long-term effects of using continuous extrinsic motivation in children. Extrinsic motivation is one of the useful tools for parents to teach their children how to perform certain tasks and responsibilities.

Encouragement and support are examples of extrinsic motivators that parents can apply to their children. However, certain types of rewards may be discouraged to avoid developing unhealthy habits that are related to rewards later in life. An example would be using food as a reward, since it may lead to unhealthy eating habits. 

When it comes to developmental tasks, praises can be beneficial. Parents can praise their children's independence while toilet training. When external rewards are used, make sure to regulate it to avoid reward dependence in your children. 


Extrinsic motivation can be quite effective when it comes to encouraging other people to complete a particular task. However, before proposing a reward-based task, ensure that the person involved is interested or motivated by the offered reward. 

Children can also learn new skills when extrinsic motivators are used in moderation. Although extrinsic motivation is not always effective, some people may find psychological extrinsic motivators more appealing, while others find external rewards more engaging.