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Understanding Intrinsic Motivation: The Power of Internal Drive

Intrinsic motivation is a fundamental concept in psychology, emphasizing the role of internal drives in shaping our behavior. Unlike extrinsic motivation, which relies on external rewards, intrinsic motivators stem from within, fueling our actions with personal satisfaction and interest. This page, drawing from the theories of renowned psychologists like Schwartz, Deci, and Ryan, offers an easily understandable exploration of intrinsic motivation.
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Intrinsic Motivators

What is Intrinsic Motivation?

Intrinsic motivation refers to engaging in activities for their inherent enjoyment, satisfaction, or challenge, rather than for some separable consequence (Deci & Ryan, 2000). This type of motivation is driven by internal desires such as curiosity, personal challenge, and the pursuit of personal growth.

Key Intrinsic Motivators:

Intrinsic Motivation Learning

Curiosity and Learning

The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. For instance, reading a book on a topic of interest purely for the joy of learning (Schwartz, 2012).
Intrinsic Motivation Challenge

Personal Challenge

Setting and achieving personal goals. A marathon runner training to beat their own record serves as a classic example (Deci, 1975).
Intrinsic Motivation Social Recognition

Creativity and Self-Expression

Engaging in creative activities like painting or writing, driven by the pleasure of expressing oneself (Ryan & Deci, 2000).
Intrinsic Motivation Self Growth

Personal Growth and Self-Improvement

The internal desire to improve oneself, such as practicing mindfulness or learning a new skill for personal satisfaction (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

The Impact of Intrinsic Motivation:

Research by Deci and Ryan, particularly their Self-Determination Theory, emphasizes that intrinsic motivation is associated with higher levels of psychological well-being, deeper engagement with activities, enhanced learning, and better creativity (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Schwartz's work on values also aligns with this, suggesting that intrinsic goals are closely linked to personal fulfillment and happiness (Schwartz, 2012).

Balancing Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation:

Achieving a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is essential for optimal well-being and effectiveness. While extrinsic motivators like rewards and recognition are powerful drivers, they can sometimes overshadow intrinsic motivation if overemphasized.

  1. Combining Motivators: In many real-world scenarios, such as in the workplace or education, a blend of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators is often necessary. For instance, a job might offer financial rewards (extrinsic) alongside opportunities for personal growth and creativity (intrinsic).

  2. Avoiding Overjustification Effect: Deci and Ryan's research warns of the overjustification effect, where external rewards can diminish intrinsic motivation. To avoid this, it's crucial to ensure that extrinsic rewards do not become the sole reason for engaging in an activity that was initially driven by intrinsic interest.

  3. Personal Values and Goals: Schwartz's theory of basic human values highlights the importance of aligning activities with personal values and goals. This alignment can help integrate intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, leading to more fulfilling and sustained engagement in activities.

  4. Mindful Engagement: Being aware of why we engage in certain activities can help maintain a healthy balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Reflecting on personal reasons for undertaking a task, such as the joy of learning versus the necessity of earning, can help in consciously balancing these motivators.

In summary, while extrinsic motivators are often necessary and beneficial, they should not completely overshadow intrinsic motivators. A mindful and balanced approach to motivation can lead to enhanced satisfaction, well-being, and overall success in various aspects of life.


Intrinsic motivation is a powerful force that drives personal fulfillment and achievement. It is the internal compass that guides us towards activities that bring us joy, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment. Understanding and nurturing our intrinsic motivators can lead to a more engaged, productive, and happy life.

List of intrinsic personal values used in our core value finder

The following is a list of all the intrinsic personal core values that were used in the assessment. Each value has a detailed scientific explanation of its effects on different domains of life.