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Secrets of Intrinsic Motivation in 2024 | Fueling Your Success from Within


Leah Nguyen 22 April, 2024 7 min read

Ever wonder how some people just seem naturally driven to learn and improve, constantly taking on new challenges without external rewards like bonuses or praise?

It's because they're intrinsically motivated.

Intrinsic motivation is the inner fire that pushes us to seek out difficult tasks and take on responsibility not to impress others but for our own fulfilment.

In this post, we'll explore the research behind motivation from within and how to spark that drive that compels you to learn just for learning's sake.

Intrinsic motivation

Table of Contents


Who came up with the term intrinsic motivation?Deci and Ryan
When was term 'Intrinsic Motivation' created?1985
Overview of Intrinsic Motivation

Tips for Better Engagement

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Intrinsic Motivation Definition

Intrinsic Motivation Definition | What is Intrinsic Motivation? | AhaSlides

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from inside an individual rather than from any external or outside rewards, pressures, or forces.

It's the internal drive that compels you to learn, create, solve problems or help others simply because it ignites your curiosity and sense of commitment.

It requires the satisfaction of three needs - autonomy, competence, and relatedness. For example, having choice and a sense of personal involvement (autonomy), challenge at an appropriate level (competence), and social connection (relatedness).

Cultivating intrinsic motivation benefits learning, personal growth, and overall job satisfaction and performance more than relying on external rewards alone.

Intrinsic Motivation vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Difference between Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation is the opposite of intrinsic motivation, it's the external force that compels you to do something to avoid punishments or earn a reward such as money or winning a prize. Let's see the key differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation below:

Intrinsic MotivationExtrinsic Motivation
OverviewComes from within the individual
Driven by interest, enjoyment, or sense of challenge
Reasons for doing an activity are inherently rewarding
Motivation persists independently without external rewards or constraints
Comes from outside the individual
Driven by the desire for rewards or fear of punishment
Reasons for doing an activity are separate from the activity itself, like getting a good grade or a bonus
Motivation depends on external rewards and constraints continuing
FocusFocuses on the inherent satisfaction of the activity itselfFocuses more on external goals and rewards
Performance EffectsGenerally leads to higher conceptual learning, creativity, and task engagementIncrease performance for simple/repetitive tasks but undermine creativity and complex problem-solving
Long-Term ImpactFacilitates lifelong learning and natural personal growthReliance on extrinsic motivators alone may not promote self-directed behaviours if rewards end
ExamplesWorking on an interesting project due to curiosityWorking overtime for a bonus

The Effect of Intrinsic Motivation

The Effect of Intrinsic Motivation

Have you ever found yourself so absorbed in a project or activity that hours seem to fly by in the blink of an eye? You were in a state of pure focus and flow, losing yourself in the challenge. That's the power of intrinsic motivation at work.

When you engage in something because you find it genuinely interesting or fulfilling, rather than for external rewards, it allows your creativity and problem-solving abilities to soar. Your performance stops being a means to an end - it becomes an end in itself.

As a result, intrinsically motivated people stretch themselves further. They tackle more difficult problems just for the thrill of conquest. They explore new ideas fearlessly, without worrying about failure or judgment. This drives higher quality work than any incentive program ever could.

Even better, intrinsic drives activate a natural thirst for learning at a profound level. It transforms work or study from a chore into a lifelong passion. Intrinsic tasks feed curiosity in a way that boosts retention and helps skills stick.

Factors That Promote Intrinsic Motivation

Factors That Promote Intrinsic Motivation

When you have full knowledge of the factors that affect your intrinsic motivation, you can properly make a thorough plan to fill in what is missing and reinforce what is already there. The factors are:

• Autonomy - When you're in control of your own decisions and direction, it ignites that inner spark to soar higher. Having freedom over choices, charting your course, and co-piloting targets let that intrinsic fuel propel you further.

• Mastery and competence - Taking on challenges that stretch without breaking you pumps up your motivation. As you gain expertise through practice, feedback cheers your progress onwards. Reaching new milestones fuels your drive to hone your abilities even more.

• Purpose and meaning - Intrinsic thrust propels you most powerfully when you understand how your talents further meaningful missions. Seeing the impacts of small efforts inspires greater contributions to causes close to heart.

Learning Motivation: Intrinsic Vs. Extrinsic

• Interest and enjoyment - Nothing motivates like interests that light your curiosity's flame. When options nurture your natural wonders and creations, your inner zest flows boundlessly. Stimulating endeavours let interests steer exploration in new skies.

• Positive feedback and recognition - Positive encouragement not toxicity reinforces intrinsic motivation. Applause for commitment, not just outcomes, uplifts morale. Commemorating milestones makes each achievement a runway for your next takeoff.

• Social interaction and collaboration - Our drive thrives alongside others with shared heights to reach. Collaborating towards joint victories satisfies social souls. Support networks strengthen motivation for continued cruising altitudes.

• Clear goals and progress tracking - Internal propulsion runs smoothest with clear navigations. Knowing destinations and monitoring advance launch you with confidence. Purpose-driven routes let intrinsic navigation guide your climb through shining skies.

Measure Your Intrinsic Motivation with This Questionnaire

This questionnaire is useful to identify if you're intrinsically motivated. Regular self-reflection helps recognise activities naturally sparked by your inner motivational energies versus those dependent on external incentives.

For each statement, rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 with:

  • 1 - Not like me at all
  • 2 - Slightly like me
  • 3 - Moderately like me
  • 4 - Very like me
  • 5 - Extremely like me

#1 - Interest/Enjoyment

I find myself doing this activity in my free time because I enjoy it so much.
This activity brings me a sense of pleasure and satisfaction.
I get excited and absorbed when doing this activity.

#2 - Challenge and curiosity

I push myself to learn more complex skills related to this activity.
I am curious to explore new ways of doing this activity.
I feel motivated by difficult problems or unsolved questions about this activity.

#3 - Sense of autonomy

I feel like I am free to adapt my approach to this activity.
No one is forcing me to do this activity - it was my own choice.
I have a sense of control over my participation in this activity.

#4 - Progress and mastery

I feel competent and confident in my abilities related to this activity.
I can see improvements in my skills over time in this activity.
Achieving challenging goals in this activity is satisfying.

#5 - Importance and meaningfulness

I find this activity personally relevant and important.
Doing this activity feels meaningful to me.
I understand how this activity can make a positive impact.

#6 - Feedback and recognition

I am motivated by positive feedback on my efforts or progress.
Seeing end results motivates me to continue improving.
Others acknowledge and appreciate my contributions in this area.

#7 - Social interaction

Sharing this experience with others increases my motivation.
Working together toward a common goal energises me.
Supportive relationships enhance my engagement in this activity.

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So as this post ends, our final message is - take time to reflect on how to align your work and studies with your inner passions. And look for ways to provide the autonomy, feedback and relationships others need to light their intrinsic fire as well.

You'll be amazed at what can happen when motivation is powered from within rather than relying on external controls. The possibilities are endless!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from internal drives and interests, rather than external prompts. People who are intrinsically motivated will engage in activities for their own sake rather than expecting some external reward.

What are the 4 components of intrinsic motivation?

The 4 components of intrinsic motivation are competence, autonomy, relatedness and purpose.

What are the 5 intrinsic motivators?

The 5 intrinsic motivators are autonomy, mastery, purpose, progress and social interaction.