Motivation and emotion/Book/2013/Extrinsic motivation
What is extrinsic motivation? How can extrinsic motivation be effectively used?
- 1 Overview
- 2 Extrinsic vs. intrinsic
- 3 Types of extrinsic motivation
- 4 External sources of motivation
- 5 A warning about extrinsic motivation
- 6 How to use extrinsic motivation
- 7 Extrinsic motivation's unlikely influence
- 8 Summary
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Have you ever been asked by a friend to help them move? If you have, chances are you did not jump at the opportunity to lug heavy boxes and furniture around. Instead, before agreeing to help, you may have pondered "what is in it for me?" Perhaps soon you will be moving and by helping them now, you know your friend will repay the favour. Maybe your friend sees your hesitancy to help, and offers to buy you dinner in exchange for your assistance. The extra condition, whether it be the promise of future help or dinner, is an incentive that extrinsically motivates you to help your friend.
This chapter aims to shed light onto extrinsic motivation, and identify ways in which you are able to effectively use extrinsic motivation in daily life. Whether it be to motivate a friend, or to motivate yourself, extrinsic motivation is a powerful tool you can use to get through the boring tasks we all face.
Extrinsic vs. intrinsic
The best way to define exactly what constitutes extrinsic motivation is to compare it to its counterpart - intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is motivation that is generated from within the self. When someone is intrinsically motivated, their behaviours are a result of interest and satisfaction related to the task they are performing. Extrinsic motivation, however, does not inherently stem from within oneself. Instead, a person engages in a task for an external outcome, such as a reward.
Types of extrinsic motivation
Self-Determination Theory proposes that there are several types of extrinsic motivation, which can vary greatly in the degree to which the motivation is autonomous (Ryan, & Deci, 2000). Autonomy refers to the amount in which a person feels their behaviours are self-decided. If an individual feels no autonomy in a situation, extrinsic motives will reflect external control. On the other hand, if an individual feels a high sense of autonomy in a situation, extrinsic motives may reflect true self-regulation.
The following are the four forms of extrinsic motivation identified on the Self-Determination Continuum.
- External Regulation
- External regulation is the most basic type of extrinsic motivation. Essentially it is the "I am doing this, so that I may get this" type of motivation. When a person is motivated by external regulation, they make choices to gain an incentive or avoid a consequence. Their behaviour shows no autonomy and is therefore, not self-determined. While external regulation is a great way to motivate someone in the short-term, it can be detrimental in the long-term. See A Warning About Extrinsic Motivation for more details.
- Introjected Regulation
- Within introjected regulation, an individual behaves in order to avoid guilt and boost their self-esteem by following the motto "I do this because I should.". Introjected regulation is a based on socially defined norms. When an individual conforms to the norms, their feeling of self-worth is increased. An example is holding a door open for another person. By holding open the door, the individual takes part in the social demand of being polite, while not necessarily accepting the idea internally.
- Identified Regulation
- The "I do this because it is important" form of extrinsic motivation is driven by an individual seeing value and importance in the task. An example used by Gagné & Deci (2005) is that of a nurse. A nurse will engage in unappealing tasks, such as bathing a patient, and still feel relatively autonomous. Why does she still feel autonomous? The nurse values a patient's well-being and understands that in order to maintain the patient's health, she will have to do unpleasant tasks.
- Integrated Regulation
- The ideal form of extrinsic motivation with the most autonomy is integrated regulation. This is the "I do this because it reflects who I am" form of motivation. "The motivation is characterized not by the person being interested in the activity but rather by the activity being instrumentally important for personal goals" (Gagné & Deci, 2005). If for instance, a person identified them-self as environmentally conscious, a task like recycling may be based on integrated regulation.
External sources of motivation
External sources of motivation are based on operant conditioning, which is "the process by which a person learns how to operate effectively in the environment" (Reeve, 2009). Below are brief descriptions of the different sources of extrinsic motivation.
- Incentives precede behaviour; drawing a person either toward action or away from it. Incentives, therefore, can be positive such as a smile from a shop keeper, or they can be negative, like an angry face from a parent. With either example, an individual is either drawn to act (going into the shop and making a purchase) or drawn to flee (hiding out at a friend's house).
- Consequences are the results of behaviour, which increase (reinforcers) or decrease (punishers) the probability that the behaviour will be performed again.
- Like incentives, reinforcers can be positive or negative. An example of a positive reinforcer is a pay check after a hard work week, which encourages working hard. Negative reinforcers are stimuli that when removed, increase avoidant behaviour. Headache medicine can be a negative reinforcer, since it removes pain and increases the likelihood of being used to treat future headaches.
- Punishers decrease future undesirable behaviour. An example of a punisher is jail-time, since it decreases an individual's likelihood to commit a crime.
- Rewards are "any offerings from one person given to another person in exchange for his or her services or achievement" (Reeve, 2009). A great example of a reward is giving a child money if they receive good marks in school, or a bonus check given to an employee who excels at work.
- Now you may be confused between the differences between rewards and positive reinforcers. To simplify things, all positive reinforcers are rewards, but not all rewards are positive reinforcers. Rewards do not necessarily increase the probability of behaviour, they only have the potential to. An example may be paying a younger sibling to do your chores for a week. The reward does not increase the chances your sibling will do your chores for you in the future.
A warning about extrinsic motivation
Extrinsic motivation works wonders on short-term goals and is effective in motivating a person to act a certain way (just think of the things people do for Klondike Bars). However, extrinsic motivation is also a dangerous tool, which can undermine intrinsic motivation and have long-term damaging effects. Numerous studies have investigated the detrimental effects of extrinsic motivation (specifically that of the external regulation type) have on intrinsic motivation.
An initial experiment was conducted in 1975 by Deci, in which groups of college students worked on a puzzle for a certain period of time, with half being compensated for their efforts. The trial also featured “free-time” periods, which were unrewarded and allowed the participant to do what they wished. The study observed that participants who did not receive compensation reported greater interest in the task, and played with the puzzle significantly more during the “free-time” periods than their counterparts who had been rewarded (as cited in Benabou & Tirole,2003). This suggests that individuals who are extrinsically motivated lose interest in a task when they are not rewarded. Since 1975, this study has been repeated in numerous formats - with kids colouring (Lepper, Greene and Nisbett, 1973) and individuals trying to stop smoking (Curry, Wagner, & Grothaus, 1990). Each study has shown that extrinsic motivation is not as powerful as intrinsic motivation in influencing behaviour and, in fact, can be damaging.
One explanation of the damaging effects can be found in the cognitive evaluation theory (CET), presented by Deci and Ryan (1985). CET examines external events by identifying an informational aspect (feedback) and a controlling aspect (purpose behind reward). The informational aspect affects a person's need for competence, while the controlling aspect affects the need for autonomy. If an individual receives negative feedback, competency and intrinsic motivation is decreased. If the external event provides positive feedback, an individual's sense of competency is increased, as is intrinsic motivation. In this case, intrinsic motivation can be enhanced by feelings of competency generated during an action that was initiated by extrinsic motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000). When we examine the control factor of an external event, events which are used to control behaviour decrease feelings of autonomy and intrinsic motivation, while extrinsic motivation increases. If the event is not controlling, autonomy and intrinsic motivation will remain high, while extrinsic motivation is unaffected (Reeves, 2009).
This is not to say that extrinsic motivation should not be used. It is a factor to be aware of when motivating someone extrinsically. Fogiel stated, "The fulfilment of intrinsic goals in life are seldom accomplished without the aid of extrinsic goals." Therefore, we must balance between using extrinsic motivation for the short-term goals which, eventually, will lead to our intrinsically motivated dreams.
How to use extrinsic motivation
In general, we can use extrinsic motivation to get people to do what we want.
Some of the simple ways we typically use extrinsic motivation:
- Rewarding a child with an allowance when they complete their chores
- Smiley stickers on assignments
- Extra-credit marks on turning assignments in early
- Trophies for winning a competition
- A bonus for selling the most products at work
- Employee of the Month awards
These rewards are expected and tangible. Also, these are the rewards that have been shown to damage intrinsic motivation.
So how do we motivate people without damaging interest?
With unexpected and verbal rewards.
One common area where we want to use extrinsic motivation is when we are teaching someone something that they are not particularly interested in. For this section, I want you to take the role of a teacher trying to motivate a student to write a 4,000 essay about leaves. More than likely, the student (unless they enjoy biology) will find the essay uninteresting, and will dread writing it. How can you motivate the child to write the essay?
Option 1: Reward the student with a handful of Skittles for every 400 words they write.
Option 2: Offer verbal encouragement as the student makes progress on the assignment, and once completed surprise the student with a tangible reward (such as free-day in class).
If the student is anything like myself, option one is really appealing with its short-term gratification. The skittles will motivate the student to complete the assignment, but will not foster interest in the subject. Instead of learning about leaves and writing a quality essay, the student's attention is on gaining the reward (in this case, yummy skittles).
Option two, while not as appealing from a student perspective, provides the best option. Verbal and unexpected rewards have been shown to offer the benefits of extrinsic motivation (ie. the student does what we want and completes the assignment) without harming intrinsic motivation.
BUT WAIT!!! The unexpected reward in option 2 is tangible, that should undermine intrinsic motivation, should it not?
Tangible rewards are not always horrible. As shown in studies done by Cameron, Banko, and Pierce (2001) Flora & Flora (1999) and McGinnis (1998), "using tangible rewards for performing low-interest tasks can increase future involvement in those tasks after the extrinsic rewards have been phased out, thus extending the skills that were developed under extrinsic reward conditions"( as cited in Williams and Stockdale, 2004).
People decide to partake in physical activity for a variety of reasons. Some wish to maintain their health, others wish to maintain or improve their appearance. For others it is just the simple joy of doing an activity with others that motivates them to get moving. However, some people simply comply in order to appease another person (ie. a son playing football because it makes dad happy).
The focus of this section is how we turn the external regulation form of extrinsic motivation (in this case the person engaging in physical activity to appease another) into a more autonomous form of extrinsic motivation. Why? External motives have been negatively associated with physical activity (Litt, Iannotti, and Wang, 2011), so if we help transform the external motives to more internally sourced ideas, physical activity may be sustained longer.
Here is our scenario: Phil has a family history of obesity, diabetes, and heart problems. At his annual check-up, the doctor informs him he is overweight. Due to his family history, it is important that Phil starts exercising regularly to avoid becoming obese, or worse having a heart attack. Phil, however, is uninterested in exercising, saying that it hurts his joints. As Phil's wife, how do we motivate him?
Option 1: We can offer Phil more sexual gratification for exercising, and withhold sex for weeks he does not exercise. Option 2: We can explain to Phil why exercising is important. An example of this may be "Exercising multiple times a week is important because it will improve your health and keep you around to see our kids graduate."
Choosing option 1 is very tempting because Phil will be likely to comply, and exercise. However, this is the type of motivation you have been warned about (See: A Warning About Extrinsic Motivation). Phil will stop exercising because the value of exercising is not internalised.
Option 2 is the clear winner in this scenario. By providing a verbal rationale as to why exercising is important, it can help internalise Phil's motives. Instead of exercising for a reward, Phil will be exercising because he finds value in it. This identified regulation type of extrinsic motivation will have longer lasting results than the external regulation type found in option one.
The above examples have explained how to motivate someone else with extrinsic motivation, but what about when it comes to motivating yourself? This is a bit trickier, since extrinsic motivation comes from outside sources. But no worries, we can adapt the basic ideas of extrinsic motivation to ourselves.
- Encourage yourself with words. While unexpectedly rewarding yourself is hard to do, try to encourage yourself with words instead of items. Say out loud the things you have done that you are proud of. Stating something simple like "The introduction to your paper is written well, and you are making excellent progress on the assignment." can be the little boost that keeps you working on the task.
- Internalise why you are doing things. When the reason behind our behaviour is internalised, we are more likely to carry out the behaviour. Re-frame tasks in a way that makes them important or reflects your values, instead of thinking in terms of what you gain by doing it.
If all else fails...
- Reward yourself!
In writing this, I have rewarded myself along the way with ice cream cone breaks, and skittles. We all need a little motivation every now and again, and it is not a crime to use the external regulation form of extrinsic motivation. If you are uninterested in a task, it might be the only way to get it done. Like all good things, moderation is key, so just be aware of when and how you use rewards, as they can come with side-effects.
Extrinsic motivation's unlikely influence
Research on extrinsic motivation is still very prevalent and in the past few years has taken surprising turns. The following are two recent studies that surprised me by relating extrinsic motivation to adolescent friendships and Twitter usage.
In 2010, Ojanen, Sijtsema, Hawley, and Little, researched the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in early adolescents' friendship development. Extrinsic reasons for making friends included gaining acceptance from parents and teachers and to satisfy appearance-related goals. Ojanen et. al. expected friendship quality to decrease over time when the friendship was formed for extrinsic reasons. Additionally, it was expected the individual would be considered superficial by others and therefore, be an undesirable friend.
The study examined sixth graders and the transition into seventh grade. Data was collected three times (October and April of year six, and October year 7). Friendships were identified by participants nominating others as their friends and motivation was analysed by a questionnaire.
What the study suggests:
- Extrinsic reasoning for friendship decreases overtime.
- Individuals motivated by extrinsic reasons may need to actively seek friends, potentially in the presence of lower quality friendships.
- Extrinsic motivation does not increase the risk of being an undesired friend.
The take away from this: if you want quality friendships, do not form them from extrinsic motives.
Agrifoglio, Metallo, Black, and Ferrara conducted a study in 2012 searching for an answer to "What really motivates people to continue to use Twitter?" Prior research studies investigating technology in the workplace had suggested extrinsic motivation to be the strongest predictor of use behaviour (Agrifoglio et al., 2012). Other studies focusing on using Twitter for leisure have suggested that intrinsic motivation is the strongest predictor of use behaviour. So which is the stronger predictor of use behaviour?
The study first defined extrinsic motivation in terms of perceived usefulness, while intrinsic motivation was defined in terms of enjoyment/playfulness. Then 6 hypotheses were formed: 1) perceived usefulness, 2) enjoyment and 3) playfulness were all positively correlated with continued usage. Additionally, perceived ease of use was positively correlated with 4) perceived usefulness, 5) enjoyment, and 6) playfulness. The Twitter users who completed the survey were also separated by their use of Twitter either for work or leisure.
What they found:
- "Users believe that using Twitter can improve their performance or their ability to achieve speciﬁc goals and, thus, they are more extrinsically motivated to continue to use it"(Agrifoglio et al., 2012).
- For work purposes, users are motivated by perceived usefulness (extrinsic motivation) not enjoyment (intrinsic motivation).
- For leisure use, users are motivated by enjoyment (intrinsic motivation) not perceived usefulness (extrinsic motivation).
- Perceived ease was directly related to continued use, without motivation mediating in-between.
The purpose of this chapter was to identify what extrinsic motivation is, and ways to use extrinsic motivation effectively.
To answer the question "what is extrinsic motivation?" we examined the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, while acknowledging the various types of extrinsic motivation. Additionally, we identified the three external sources of motivation (incentives, consequences, and rewards).
Now when it comes to effectively using extrinsic motivation, we first received the important warning that extrinsic motivation can undermine intrinsic motivation in the long run. Therefore, we focus on ways to counteract this. We explore two common scenarios in which we may want to motivate someone - academics and physical activity. Through the academic scenario, we identify that using unexpected, verbal rewards can be effective without being undermining. Through the physical activity scenario, we explore the idea of using verbal rational to help individuals internalise extrinsic ideas. We also explored how to motivate ourselves using extrinsic motivation.
Finally, we acknowledge that extrinsic motivation is a subject that is not completely understood, and identify two studies in which the effects of extrinsic motivation have recently been researched.
- Intrinsic motivation (Book chapter, 2013)
- Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Wikipedia)
- Operant Conditioning (Wikipedia)
- Reinforcement (Wikipedia)
- Self-Determination Theory (Wikipedia)
- Uninteresting tasks and motivation
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Why Extrinsic Motivation Does Not Always Work