Does Extrinsic Motivation Work?

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We all have our own goals, aspirations, and motivations. Some people work hard and stay disciplined to improve their sense of self-worth and satisfaction, while others simply enjoy receiving the praise that comes with success. 

In this article, we will be discussing the term extrinsic motivation and what it means. More so, we will mention how well extrinsic motivation works and a few of its downsides. 

What Is Extrinsic Motivation?

We have already mentioned that certain people become motivated when faced with praise, money, or other physical rewards. The term used to describe this type of motivation is called ‘extrinsic.’ 

If you work hard to complete a challenge or task, simply because you will receive fame, good grades, money, or praise by the end of it, you have an extrinsic motivation. This is the complete opposite of intrinsic motivation, which revolves around internal rewards, including a sense of satisfaction. 

How Well Does Extrinsic Motivation Work?

Extrinsic motivation can be highly effective. There are thousands of examples of when extrinsic motivation is used to get people to do something:

  • Many people enter races or events because there is a cash prize for the winner
  • A good amount of the population stay in a job that they do not like because it pays well
  • People shop with particular stores simply because of the reward cards that they offer

Contrary to popular belief, extrinsic motivation is not a bad thing. Earning external rewards is very useful and sometimes necessary. For example, a professional athlete earns their living through entering and part-taking in races that pay. More so, it is a great way to keep people on track and dedicated. 

The Downside Of Extrinsic Motivation

Researchers have found that offering people too many physical rewards can lead to a decrease in intrinsic motivation. This is known as the overjustification effect – in short, internal rewards no longer seem sufficient to these people. 

If a person is given a physical reward after achieving something, they often assign too much importance to reinforcement. They will begin to feel as if they have not done well at something unless given an external reward. For this reason, we mustn’t rely too much on physical rewards. 

Concluding Thoughts

Extrinsic motivation refers to the sense of motivation people feel when offered physical and external rewards, such as money or fame. This type of motivation is often very effective. However, it can lead to a decrease in intrinsic motivation, as people begin relying too much on external rewards.

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