Types of Motivation

One of my favorite classes in high school was AP Psychology. I learned about a lot of interesting concepts in this class. One concept that I want to share is called intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is when someone does something because they want to, and without any outside force making them. Extrinsic motivation is the opposite-where someone does something because of external rewards. The action that you’re doing may be the same, like reading a book, but if you are reading because you want to, your motivation is intrinsic. If you’re reading because you have to for a class, then you have extrinsic motivation.

The important thing to learn from this concept is that research has found that people are more successful when they are intrinsically motivated to do something. If you take something you enjoy, like photography or painting, and create extrinsic motivations (like earning money for doing it), you might not be as successful or motivated to achieve your goal. 

Another way of looking at it is that people who are intrinsically motivated do something because they enjoy the process itself. People who are extrinsically motivated do something because of the benefits they gain from completing the task-whatever it is. Based on this, it is easy to see why people find more success in goals they are intrinsically motivated to do. I enjoy the process of selling Girl Scout Cookies, for example, and therefore end up selling a lot! The Girl Scouts that see the cookie sale more like a fundraiser, and care more about what they’ll be able to do with their troop with the money they raise, will likely only sell just as many as they need to in order to reach their goal. The cookie sale is an amazing program because it is girl led so that girls can make their own choices, and either type of motivation is beneficial to their Girl Scout experience!

So the next time that you find it is difficult to accomplish a task or goal, think about the bigger picture. You may not find enjoyment in the process of learning a difficult math concept, for example, but you can remember that you are doing it because you want to get a good grade in your math class so you can progress to the next step of your academic career!

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