Author: N.I. Kozlov

Internal and external motivation

Фильм "Dan Pink"

When solving simple problems, external motivation is more effective; for solving complex, creative problems, internal motivation is more effective.
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​​​​​​​External motivation - an incentive or compulsion to do something by external circumstances or incentives for a person.

A thundercloud is very motivating to quickly run home from the forest. People got promised an award - they began to move faster. The boss wrote the rules for the employees, imposed fines and the employees began to follow the rules, whether they want it or not. A man who suddenly appeared from a gateway pointed a gun at you and demanded your wallet - you will hand over the wallet without any hesitation.

Internal motivation - the motivation that a person carries within themselves regardless of the external environment.

Internal motivated behaviour occurs i the absence of any explicit reward. In other words, it is not very clear what external motivations and reinforcers control a person.

Internal motivation is not related to external circumstances, motivations or reinforsers, but, first of all, to the content of the activity itself.

A small child is always trying something new, expores everything and it seems that it is determined not only by the motivations surrounding it, but it also comes from a child itself.

An adult: "The main reason why I do my work is not a salary. I love what I do. Here, I have everything to be happy and my reward is an activity itself."

At the same time, it's wrong to think that internal motivation comes only within a person and cannot be created from the outside. Of course, it can! The Emperor of Japan Hirohito, who capitulated in World War II, gave his generals a task: "Leave the army, create the industry in Japan!" and this became the real life work of his generals, the source of the Japanese economic miracle as a result. Little Paganini was forced to play violin for 6-8 hours every day: they forced him, yet, however, as a result the great violinist Nicolo Paganini was born.

Comparative effectiveness

When solving simple problems, where all you need is to avoid the distractions - you just need to work harder and harder, external motivation is way more effective.

Pay more money and you will get a better results.

When solving hard, creative tasks, external motivation is not only less effective, but it has the opposite negative effect.

The more you pay, the worse the results are.

By rewarding people for what they would have done without any reward, we disrupt their internal motivation. By giving up rewards and threats and allowing people to find internal motives for doing good things, you can ensure that they will start doing them on their own initiative and will enjoy it.

Debatable questions

If a person wants to go to a toilet, is this their internal or external motivation? It seems to be internal, but in fact it is forced to go there by the bladder. If a person believes that their body is them, then yes, this is an internal motivation. And if a person does not identify with their body, concider themselves something unrelated to the body and learn how to live according to the laws of the spirit (or at least according to the rules accepted by people) and not what their bode tells them - then the pressure of the bladder is an external pressure to them. And if they ran to the toilet, they're driven by external motivation!

A woman takes care of her husband because she loves him (internal motivation) or is it just because the life is boring without a husband and she can't find another one? Then it seems like it's an external motivation...

For a grown up person, a person in the position of the author, any motivation, whether its internal or external, sets only the background of their life. If you obey this background, if it's not the background, but the reason for your behaviour - you are in the position of the victim. "There's a motivation - I can do it! I'm out of motivation - what can I do?" If you use motivation as a sail and can create your own motivation at the right time (on the principle "Want to want!"), you are the author of your life.