Published on: July 21, 2023 Last updated: July 17, 2023

Extrinsic Motivation: Definition, Examples, Pros & Cons


Within the vast spectrum of motivation lies a captivating force known as extrinsic motivation. Delving into the depths of this captivating concept, we embark on a journey to unravel the intricacies of extrinsic motivation, exploring its meaning, and definition, and unveiling many compelling examples.

Furthermore, we delve into the realm of external motivation and its associated factors, touching upon diverse types of extrinsic motivation and benefits. Join us as we navigate through the nuances of extrinsic motivation, shedding light on its profound influence on workplace culture, leadership motivation, and team dynamics. From measuring motivation to elevating productivity, we embark on a comprehensive exploration that transcends the realm of the ordinary.

What is Extrinsic Motivation?

what are extrinsic motivators

At the core of the extrinsic motivation definition, one finds the fundamental concept of actively pursuing an activity or striving towards a specific goal fueled by external incentives or rewards. In stark contrast to its intrinsic counterpart, which arises from an individual’s innate desires and interests, extrinsic motivation relies on external factors to inspire and propel behaviour. To fully grasp the true essence of extrinsic motivation, it becomes crucial to delve into its multifaceted nature, unearthing its profound influence on individuals and their aspirations.

By examining the intricate layers of extrinsic motivation, we uncover a dynamic interplay between external stimuli and human motivation, highlighting how rewards, recognition, and tangible incentives can shape our actions and drive us towards desired outcomes. This understanding sheds light on the mechanisms underlying extrinsic motivation and offers valuable insights into how it can be effectively harnessed to enhance performance, productivity, and achievement in various domains of life. Ultimately, recognizing the power of extrinsic motivation empowers individuals and organizations alike to create environments that foster and leverage external incentives to unlock their full potential.

What is an Example of Extrinsic Motivation?

extrinsic benefits

To understand extrinsic motivation comprehensively, let us explore an illustrative example in the workplace. Imagine an employee who is motivated to surpass specific sales targets, driven by the promise of a performance-based bonus upon successful achievement.

In this scenario, the extrinsic motivator of the monetary reward acts as a catalyst, spurring the employee to elevate their performance and invest in increased effort. This real-life demonstration highlights how extrinsic reward examples such as bonuses or financial incentives, can significantly influence and shape an individual’s motivation and behaviour within a professional setting.

Moreover, extrinsic motivation manifests itself prominently in educational contexts as well. For instance, consider a student who strives for academic excellence due to their aspiration for recognition through scholarships or acceptance into esteemed institutions. In this case, the external motivators of scholarships and recognition are powerful driving forces, igniting the student’s commitment and determination to excel academically. By increase motivation, the student recognizes the tangible benefits and rewards that can be obtained through their academic achievements.

external motivation definition

When exploring the meaning of extrinsic motivation, it becomes evident that it refers to the pursuit of goals or engagement in activities propelled by external motivation factors. Unlike intrinsic motivation, which originates from an individual’s internal desires and interests, extrinsic motivation draws upon external motivators to stimulate behaviour. It encompasses various external incentives and rewards, such as financial benefits, recognition, praise, promotions, or other tangible perks, that encourage individuals to perform at their best.

Various types of extrinsic motivation can drive human behaviour. These may include extrinsic reward example such as monetary compensation, gifts, or prizes, and intangible forms of recognition, such as public acclaim, certificates, or social status. The underlying goal of these extrinsic motivators is to inspire individuals to pursue specific objectives, meet targets, or exhibit desired behaviours by appealing to their external needs and desires.

By comprehending the significance of extrinsic benefits, we acknowledge the power that external incentives hold in shaping our actions and driving us towards desired outcomes. It emphasizes the importance of external rewards and motivators in encouraging individuals to achieve their goals and fulfil their potential. Whether it is in the workplace, educational institutions, or various other domains, the strategic utilization of extrinsic motivators can create environments that foster engagement, productivity, and goal attainment.

What are Some of the Cons and Pros to Using Extrinsic Motivation?

extrinsic motivation

While extrinsic benefits can yield positive outcomes in certain situations, it is essential to recognize both its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore some pros and cons associated with the use of extrinsic motivation:

Pros of Extrinsic Motivation:

  • Increased Productivity: External rewards and incentives can inspire individuals to work harder, improving productivity and efficiency.
  • Clear Goal Orientation: Extrinsic motives provide individuals with specific targets and objectives, enabling them to focus their efforts and work towards achieving these goals.
  • Measurable Performance: By linking rewards to specific outcomes, extrinsic motivation allows for easier performance measurement and evaluation, enabling organizations to track progress effectively.

Cons of Extrinsic Motivation:

  • Diminished Intrinsic Motivation: Excessive reliance on extrinsic rewards can undermine an individual’s intrinsic motivation, leading to a decreased sense of enjoyment and personal satisfaction in the task itself.
  • Short-Term Focus: While extrinsic motivators can drive short-term performance, they may not necessarily foster long-term engagement or commitment to a task or goal.
  • Unintended Consequences: In some cases, extrinsic motives may lead to unintended consequences, such as fostering a competitive rather than collaborative work environment or encouraging individuals to focus solely on achieving rewards rather than personal growth.


meaning of extrinsic motivation

As we conclude this captivating exploration of extrinsic motivation, we emerge with a profound understanding of its intricacies and implications. By embracing the multifaceted nature of extrinsic motivation, organizations, leaders, and individuals can leverage its power to foster workplace culture, drive productivity, and elevate team morale.

Through a delicate balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, we can unlock the full potential of individuals, paving the way for personal and collective achievements that transcend the ordinary. Embrace the transformative force of extrinsic motives harness its potential, and witness the remarkable heights you can reach on your journey towards success.


  • Kaja Kowalska

    Hi there! My name is Kaja, and I'm a Marketing Executive at TDSOFT. I absolutely love gamification and have a real passion for building company culture and leadership.

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