This article will help you to differentiate between extrinsic and intrinsic motives.
Extrinsic motives can be traced easily through rewards, reinforcement and punishment. All these are similar to external forces which act upon the organism and propel and direct behaviour towards a desired goal. Extrinsic motivation programmes have been extensively applied in educational, industrial and clinical settings – applications of these principles and their tremendous impact. The findings presented in the article clearly show how behaviour can be aroused, directed or changed in order to reach a particular goal, in terms of learning a skill, a response and so on.
Reinforcement programmes, especially token economy programmes, were introduced in schools, industries and psychiatric clinics to see whether they could motivate behaviour towards a determined goal. It was made clear to the individuals belonging to these groups that certain behaviour would be reinforced with extrinsic rewards in terms of grades and praises from teachers to the students, incentives like extra money and leisure time for industrial workers, cigarettes, chances to view television, play football, etc., for patients.
The results were very impressive; they displayed increase in performance, efficiency, orderly behaviour and so on. This shows that social behaviour could be greatly improved. This further showed that certain types of behaviour which are necessary at a particular time could be motivated or aroused in order to achieve a desired outcome. Token reinforcements proved quite effective in controlling children’s behaviour, especially disorderly behaviour.
Organisational heads whose job is to motivate employees, face much the same situation as school administrators and teachers whose job is to motivate the students. The problem of motivation in the two situations is the same though the specific goals and behavioural patterns differ. Managements carefully plan and establish controls and expect their workers to follow them meticulously.
Managements also assume that a person will perform effectively to the extent that his rewards are made contingent upon effective performance. Schedules of reinforcement like piece-rate payments, sales commissions and bonuses, etc., have been shown to increase the consistency and effectiveness of behaviour. Thus, extrinsic rewards are believed to lead people to engage themselves in behaviour which they think will lead to desired ends.
Intrinsic motives or rather intrinsically motivated activities are those activities for which there are no apparent rewards except the activity itself. The activities are ends in themselves rather than means to ends. There is no apparent reward, for here the person only derives enjoyment.
It is pointed out that an activity cannot, in any meaningful sense, reinforce itself but rather, what it can do is to bring about certain internal consequences which the organism experiences as rewarding. Many activities are intrinsically motivated. People spend large amounts of time, money and effort on solving puzzles, painting pictures and engaging in other play activities for which there is no external reward.
The rewards for these activities are not obvious or external. One is engaged in these activities not because they lead one to an external reward (like money, praise, food, etc.,) but because they bring about certain kinds of internal states which one finds rewarding.
The notion of extrinsic reward or motivation could be easily traced through reinforcement, rewards, punishment, etc. However, serious limitations of extrinsic motives were patched up by intrinsic motives. It is claimed that human beings are intrinsically motivated to learn; they want to understand about themselves and the world around them, and to engage in effective dealing with their environment.
The school children of today especially those who belong to middle and high socioeconomic groups approach learning with a desire to discover something rather than merely as a task to be performed. The child then develops a tendency to work with the autonomy of self-reward or be rewarded by the discovery itself. It is claimed that reward and punishment in learning situation interferes with competence and efficiency of performance.
Schools and colleges are leaning towards discovering and providing subjects which interest and fascinate students and refraining from using extrinsic rewards. The idea is to make activity its own reward and produce more creative and meaningful learning. Here, it provides a chance for the individual to interpret success and failure as information rather than as reward punishment.
The philosophy of intrinsic motivation has been well captured by some of the schools and colleges which are referred to as ‘progressive schools’, ‘free schools’ and so on. A critic of contemporary education who supported intrinsic motivation once said, “We destroy … the love of learning … in children – by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards, gold stars, papers marked 100, A’s on report cards, etc.” Extensive damage is caused by the exploitation of extrinsic motivation.
The use of rewards and punishments to encourage learning will only interfere with the learning process because it will make the child’s learning dependent on the reward, and cause it to do things that will lead it to the reward in the easiest way even if this leaves it less learned. Once this is generalized to other than school situations, a person will, throughout one’s life, do things only if there is perceptible extrinsic reward.
If this becomes the universally accepted norm then what would be left in this world would not be mankind but “Man unkind”! At this point we may briefly refer back to the humanistic model which envisaged a hierarchy of motives and also an evolutionary process in motivation. It may be seen that the self-motives which occupy the highest position in this hierarchy are by and large intrinsic in nature compared to the lower order motives which are relatively extrinsic.
Here one may see the relationship between extrinsic and intrinsic motivations as techniques of managing motives. Intrinsic motivation as a technique will most probably be successful only if the basic extrinsic motives have reached an optimal degree of satisfaction. By and large self-respect is easily sacrificed in the face of hunger of any type, and greed is not uncommon. But there can be instances where intrinsic motives assume priority even over basic extrinsic motives.
While there are still points of controversies, certain points of consensus have emerged. Thus it is agreed that almost all forms of complex human behaviour are motivated. Secondly, it is agreed that motivational patterns go through a process of development, are influenced by one’s experiences, social factors, and cultural factors.
It is also known that in many instances the behaviour of an individual results from a combination of motives. Further there are instances where there can be a conflict between motives resulting in non-adaptive behaviour. But the most important point is that motives and needs can influence one’s cognitive activities like perception, learning and thinking.
From the practical point of view it has been shown that motivation can be developed enabling people to improve their output and performance resulting in benefits not only to the individuals but society at large. Finally it has also been shown that motives can be measured. Today motivation research has assumed a lot of importance.
This has a lot of implication for disadvantaged groups and underdeveloped societies. If individuals in these groups are properly motivated, this can definitely result in a better utilisation of their abilities and effective exploitation of other resources. It is known that very often differences in performance output and achievement are basically due to motivational factors and not abilities or intelligence per se.
It is, therefore no wonder, that psychologists have evolved a number of motivation development programmes for slow learners, workers, students, executives and many others. Incentive schemes evolved by various organisations are a direct result of our understanding of the nature of motivation. Above all, our knowledge of motivation has served to change even the idea of human nature.
Today we know that the human being is not always rational. At the same time we also know that he is not always selfish and looking for material rewards. The human being can be motivated to be helpful, selfless and altruistic, deriving satisfaction, happiness and even joy by being able to contribute to the good of society and the good of others.
On the other hand we also know about the factors which contribute to non-motivation, demotivation and negative motivation. Such knowledge can go a long way in eliminating conditions in life situations that can lead to the above and has lessons for learners, parents, teachers, managers administrators and in fact for, everyone.