Thanks for bringing up the extrinsic/ intrinsic motivation dichotomy. It’s nice to get back to psychology after these weeks on methods and sociology: a reminder to education specialists how much we are multi-discipline.
Intrinsic motivation works on the emotions at the point of contact with the study object. We get in the ‘flow’ (Csikszentmihalyi, 2002) and derive emotional benefits from the activity. There is a feedback loop in action as the satisfaction we feel reinforces our desire to participate in the activity in the future. Extrinsic motivation is situated in the future, towards a goal that is not internalised. Neither can be prioritised as being more beneficial to the individual although many writers point out the dangers of extrinsic motivation. Elliot and Covington put up the traditional fear of “offering tangible rewards such as grades will inhibit the will to learn for its own sake” in order to attack that position (Elliot & Covington, 2001, p. 87).
Personally, I have very high extrinsic motivation to have the appellation ‘doctor’ before my name (actually in Japan, it’s after!) as I’m motivated by the lure of status: the image of how I can be of more import at work. Simultaneously, I’m highly motivated intrinsically as I’m acutely aware that my knowledge is weak, my skills are poor and my intra- and inter-personal attributes need a lot of work. I thoroughly enjoy the process of reading others’ posts, thinking about them, seeing where I fail and working on that. Until this morning, I hadn’t reflected on types of motivation deeply nor researched current thinking on motivation for some months.
Rather than being categorising myself as being influenced by one motivational type over another, I agree with Low and Jin (2012) who state that:
Motivation is conceptualized as a continuum with the intrinsic at one end and the extrinsic at the other, and a person may have mixed motivations. Intrinsic motivation (e.g., enjoying doing an assignment just because it is challenging) to a certain extent reflects a basic human need for competence and self-determination (p.49).
Elliot, J. E. & Covington, M. V. (2001). Approach and avoidance motivation. Educational Psychology Review, 13(2), 73-92.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002). Flow: The Psychology of Happiness. Rider (Random House Group): London.
Low, R. & Jin, P. (2012). Achievement Motivation and Learning. In A. N/ M/ Seel (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of the Sciences of Learning (47-51). New York: Springer.