By.herbs / Baza wiedzy / Intrinsic or extrinsic motivation to change

Intrinsic or extrinsic motivation to change

Discover the power of true motivation to change and transform your life into a once-in-a-lifetime journey.

What motivated you?

The motivation to change is not just a temporary impulse, but a lasting driving force that can change our lives dramatically. Many times we hear when we undertake a change or achieve success, and we are usually able to answer this question (sometimes less, sometimes more precisely). After all, motivation is the driving force – without it, there is no action.

What if you were asked by your friend if you are motivated internally or externally (we know, we know, this is a rather unusual question). Can you give an answer? Why would this be important in the first place?

Table of contents:

  1. Intrinsic motivation
  2. Extrinsic motivation
  3. Examples of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
  4. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can coexist
  5. Summary


Intrinsic motivation is engaging in an activity because it is pleasurable. You do an activity for yourself, not because you will receive obvious extrinsic rewards. The reward is the feeling of completing the task itself—that is, the joy and satisfaction of completing it.

Think about what you do in your daily life, what you engage in for pure pleasure. If you are reading this article out of interest and curiosity, then you have an intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is when the behavior itself is a reward. I do it because I like it, it gives me pleasure, it develops me.

If you are at the stage of building the identity of the person you want to be and/or become, and your behavior is consistent with this image, e.g. “I don’t smoke because I’m a non-smoker (a phrase spoken when I quit smoking), I exercise regularly because I’m a person who cares about my physical health”, this is also an internal mobilization. It can be said that it is a motivation based on a process, not an outcome (although having a goal is perfectly fine).

For example, let’s take a person who wants to lose weight. She is very attached to the result. He checks his weight every day. When making choices, undertaking certain behaviors, he has a dream number in his head to achieve or throw off. It is unlikely to be motivated internally, but externally – more on that in a moment.

A person who also wants to lose weight, but does it because they want to change their lifestyle, will be motivated more internally than externally. Such a person may also have a certain number in their head (intrinsic motivation does not mean giving up on the goal), but they are not so attached to this number. The goal is rather a signpost, it indicates the direction in which I am going, it is a point of reference.


Extrinsic motivation refers to doing something not because you enjoy it, but because you want to get extrinsic rewards or avoid punishment.

These consequences can be tangible—such as monetary loss—or abstract, such as social respect or shame. The use of extrinsic motivation to guide human behavior is ubiquitous in everyday life. Example: You’re shedding weight for a wrestling event because you need to reach a certain number of pounds to fit into a given weight range. After the competition is over, you will probably return to your pre-competition weight.


Examples of intrinsic motivation:

A sense of competence when you master a new skill,
A sense of accomplishment when you see progress in your work,
A sense of belonging when you participate in group activities
A sense of purpose when you’re a volunteer at a shelter or mentor a younger one.

Examples of extrinsic motivation:

Tangible extrinsic rewards or specific psychological rewards. While tangible rewards are always external, psychological rewards can sometimes come from within.

Below are examples of rewards that result in extrinsic motivation:

Tangible – a new toy, an add-on, a bonus, etc.

Psychological – praise, lack of criticism, etc.

Comparison of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation:

  • Practicing tennis for fun vs. Practicing tennis to win the match.
  • Thanking because you appreciate the help of others vs. Thank you because you want to follow the rules of society.
  • You cook because you like to create new dishes vs. You cook because your family is hungry.
  • You smile because doing it makes you feel good vs. you smile because you feel socially obligated

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can coexist

People may engage in the same behavior for different reasons and therefore with different motivations. Sometimes intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can coexist even though they are opposite. Let’s assume that someone working to complete a project may be externally motivated to complete it , to meet the deadline set by the boss, but also internally because they like the project and want to do quality work.

The above example is a great illustration of how our motivations can go hand in hand, even though they are a mixture of internal and external factors.