Extrinsic Motivation

Teacher applauding female student (11-13) standing in front of class.
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Definition: Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from outside an individual. The motivating factors are external, or outside, rewards such as money or grades. These rewards provide satisfaction and pleasure that the task itself may not provide.

An extrinsically motivated person will work on a task even when they have little interest in it because of the anticipated satisfaction they will get from some reward.

The rewards can be something as minor as a smiley face to something major like fame or fortune. For example, an extrinsically motivated person who dislikes math may work hard on a math equation because want the reward for completing it. In the case of a student, the reward would be a good grade on an assignment or in the class.

Extrinsic motivation does not mean, however, that a person will not get any pleasure from working on or completing a task. It just means that the pleasure they anticipate from some external reward will continue to be a motivator even when the task to be done holds little or no interest. An extrinsically motivated student, for example, may dislike an assignment, may find it boring, or may have no interest in the subject, but the possibility of a good grade will be enough to keep the student motivated in order for him or her to put forth the effort to do well on a task.

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