Intrinsic Motivation: Self-Drive And Why We Do Things

Intrinsic motivation is a powerful force within us. If a person is given the right and proper amount of intrinsic motivation, you help him improve on many aspects of his being. You are helping him take a step closer to his goals.


Intrinsic motivation is a type of human behavior fueled by internal rewards. Some of us interpret this as internal satisfaction, feeding our own self-worth. To put it another way, a person motivated to engage in a particular behavior arises from within himself because he knows for a fact that it will give him a certain amount of worthiness or value. This goes completely in contrast with extrinsic motivation. It is a matter of engaging in a particular behavior so as to avoid a punishment or earn an external reward instead.

Understanding the Nature of Intrinsic Motivation

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From the psychological point of view, intrinsic motivation can be determined by the internal and external rewards. It is observable in our actions despite the fact that we can’t anticipate receiving any external rewards from it. Like for instance, many of us like to do certain activities simply because it is our way of releasing our stress. Or we know that carrying out a particular activity or task is going to give us an opportunity to explore something new. It will also help us put into action our undetermined and unrealized potentials, talents or skills. 

Now pause for a while and consider your reasons why you are reading this article right this very moment. Are you reading this content simply because you find psychology interesting and you want to delve deeper into the subject of motivation? If you are finding yourself along this line of thought, then you are acting upon intrinsic motivation. There is a reward you know you will obtain in the end. You will gain something, knowledge. But if you are compelled to read this article to do your homework for your academic subject in school or otherwise, that is another story. Your actions then are driven by extrinsic motivation.

intrinsic motivation

Can you still remember the last time that you did something just because you find it pleasurable and you do enjoy doing so? We actually have a manifold of activities that can be classified into this type of category. From painting scenery to building your garden, from cooking your meal to reading your favorite novel. There is nothing unusual about them. We enjoy doing these activities simply because they give us a certain level of satisfaction or that they are making us happy. Our personal hobbies usually fall in this area.

All About  Internal Satisfaction

You are intrinsically motivated if the main reason you are doing a certain activity is to obtain pleasure or fulfillment from it. The motivations that make you engage in such activities is purely stemming from within rather than having a desire to obtain certain kind of external rewards like money, acclaim, or prize.

intrinsic motivation

We are not trying to convey here that intrinsically motivated type of behaviors doesn’t present to us with their own rewards. The rewards they actually entail usually come in the form of creating positive emotions within the person itself.

There is a manifold of activities that can help us generate positive feelings from within. They usually give us a sense of meaning or purpose. A typical example of which is when we give our participation in an event for a charitable cause. This can come in the form of a church event, medical mission, or a relief operation. You will also get a sense of progress upon seeing your work is creating a positive impact. 

intrinsic motivation

Motivation to Learn

Intrinsic motivation is extremely important in education. Actually, it is an integral part of it, at the very core. People in the academe, teachers, and educators, they are constantly working to create and come up with intrinsically rewarding learning environments. It is sad to see that the majority of educational paradigms we have today are suggesting that the vast majority of our students find learning uninteresting. Therefore, to bring learning back to the classroom, we need to make our educational structures engaging. 

The four corners of a physical classroom are the most boring sight for many students. Hence, they often miss out on learning opportunities and thus fail to optimize their education. Therefore, it is crucial to give them an extrinsic goaded so they will find zest again in doing educational activities. Such a measure is paramount to helping them regain their interest in learning.

There are many different ways to make learning really intrinsically rewarding. This may include any of the following:


When students are given recognition for their accomplishments, it gives them a sense of importance and value. This is one of the most practical ways you can increase their intrinsic motivation.


As humans, we naturally want to have some sense of control over ourselves, even in our surrounding environment. All of us have that deep-seated urge inside us. It is telling us to control the things that we want to pursue.

Competition and Cooperation

A person helping others in need will find happiness in doing so. It is also a good source for his intrinsic motivation. This will make him decide to carry on with his benevolent actions toward others who are in need.

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