Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
Comparison of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Motivation is not only essential to human behavior, but is also relevant to what motivates individuals to change certain positive or negative behaviors (Repovich, 2014). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are important components to human motivation and explore human motivation for particular activities (Repovich, 2014). Researcher Wendy Repovich (2014) categorizes intrinsic motivation as being something primal, internal, or learned and extrinsic motivation as something that is external and can contain positive or negative effects. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation each contain their own unique components related motivation and also contain different factors for long-term change and health.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation by the fulfillment and interest in the undertaking itself and is fueled within the individual rather than by external pressures (Seifert, Chapman, Hart, & Perez, 2012). This form of motivation relates to health, especially when an individual is attempting to quit smoking, or attempting to remain physically fit on their own accord, with their own personal motivation fueling their personal desire. For example, intrinsic motivation related to health has shown a positive effect in individuals who had the self-desire to exercise regularly, showing increased weight loss and long-term change in comparison to those with extrinsic motivation (Teixeira et al., 2006).

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is external motivation that literally derived from outside influences that are bestowed on the individual (Seifert et al., 2012). These types of motivations can be positive or negative and contain examples related to money, grades, and threat of punishment (Seifert et al., 2012). Extrinsic motivation can be positive, but can be less effective for long-term changes to health, primarily due to the external influences associated with extrinsic motivation. For example, it can be argued that the rewards associated with extrinsic motivation can become the main reason for the behavior, rather than enhancing intrinsic motivation (Seifert et al., 2012). This can mean that extrinsic outcomes related to exercise and promoting physical activity depends on the participants needs for cognition to be effective long-term (Gallagher & Updegraff, 2011).


Both the usage of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation contain components that promote health and also rewards. One of the first steps that is necessary for both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, is one’s ability to use the motivational incentives to promote the adoption of healthy behaviors. Due to intrinsic motivation being more related to motivational fulfillment rather than by external influences, it is easier to show a correlation between intrinsic motivation and long-term behavior changes. Extrinsic motivation can also be necessary, especially when individuals do not feel good on their own and may rely on external influences to increase motivation for long-term effects. In any event, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation contain their own unique components towards motivation, and can both lead to improving overall health and promote long-term change when used accordingly.


Gallagher, K. M., & Updegraff, J. A. (2011). When ‘fit’ leads to fit, and when ‘fit’ leads to fat: How message framing and intrinsic vs. extrinsic exercise outcomes interact in promoting physical activity. Psychology & Health, 26(7), 819-834.

Repovich, W. S. (2014). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Salem Press Encyclopedia Of Health

Seifert, C. M., Chapman, L. S., Hart, J. K., & Perez, P. (2012). Enhancing Intrinsic Motivation in Health Promotion and Wellness. American Journal Of Health Promotion, 26(3), TAHP1-TAHP10.

. Teixeira, P.J., Going, S.B., Houtkooper, L.B., Cussler, E.C., Metcalfe, L.L., Blew, R.M., Sardinha, L.B., & Lohman, T.G. (2006). Exercise motivation, eating, and The Digest 413 body image variables as predictors of weight control. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38, 179-188.



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