The Difference Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

When you have a team of people working in task-oriented activities, such as specific projects requiring phases and deadlines, it’s essential to use a few necessary tools.

Intrinsic motivation is the one that makes people act on their own initiative. It makes them happy and proud to be working on a particular project or for a specific company. Of course, many things can motivate people, but I will not insist on them in this article.

Extrinsic motivation is the process through which somebody from the outside uses specific incentives, such as pain against one’s rear and the battery. The most frequent ones are money, mobile phone, car, bonuses/ gifts/coupons, holidays / social activities, discounts for the company’s products, provision of beneficial medical and health services, flexible working hours, subsidies (for transportation, sports activities), self-service buffet/refreshments.


The difference between features and benefits

As soon as somebody makes a decision regarding a job, this decision is based on the main criteria that bring about decisive benefits with what is essential. These are called benefits. If someone benefits from them at their workplace, they will opt for it unless another job offers the same benefits and a few important extra features. For example, let’s say someone is looking for a job because it’s essential to have a stable net income of 700 euros/month, working in his own field of expertise. These are the main criteria. If he finds an offer that suits this, he will take it. He will choose according to the offer’s additional advantages (features) if he considers several offers.

Let’s say job offers X and Y have the primary benefits of providing 700 euros/month and tasks assigned to the employee’s field of expertise. Offer X will have the following features, i.e., additional elements to the main criteria essential for the potential employee: work car, laptop, and young colleagues. Offer Y will have the following features: laptop, mobile phone, and bonuses proportional to exceeding the standard amount of work. The potential employee will choose according to the features that seem more important to him. For example, here we have several types of incentives, of which “young colleagues” is something immaterial, which is somewhat related to one’s own getting motivated, and the rest is connected to one’s being motivated and the feeling of getting motivated offered externally. Depending on one’s own priorities and criteria, the employee will acknowledge certain features as benefits and features that are of no interest to them.

Each employee has their own criteria and, therefore, their perception of what features or benefits are to their person. However, the pre-selection of the persons based on a profile as well outlined as possible helps those who will perceive the existing benefits come to the interview for that position.

I’ll develop a few examples from the sales field so that you will understand how the concepts of features and benefits work.

Features represent all that a device can do. Benefits are the functions most likely why a consumer buys that device. For instance, a smartphone may also be used as a GPS (Global Positioning System), but most likely, the majority of people will not buy it because they have no place to keep their maps but because it meets their communication needs. Identify the real benefits of why clients buy from you and highlight them!

Whether you have an idea, a product, or a service to sell, you need to be sure as soon as possible that the other one confirms the purchase and actually makes it. There are numerous books only on this topic. Based on the fifth persuasion law, the law of expectation, the need to complete that the seller has and his conviction that he will carry out the transaction finds its psychological counterpart in the buyer’s willingness to assume a conscious decision. The refusal to make a choice is still a choice. Examples:

Double bind: “Would you rather we deliver your fridge on Monday or Wednesday?

Triple bind: “I will tell you something that might scare or entertain you terribly, but in any case, it will give you a moment to remember for the rest of your life. Now that I have all your attention…”

Bonus: “Look, I have a special offer for you: if you buy the machine now, I will give you 2 chargers for free!”

Feature: “This phone is an excellent communication and Internet surfing device, but it also features a GPS with all Bucharest maps stored in it!”


A vital suggestion: how to keep the others on your side

Respect your people (employees, collaborators, supervisors), treating them as partners so that you can count on their inner feeling of getting motivated rather than the external feeling of being motivated that others can provide. In a way, being motivated can be a cheap way of avoiding the desire to get involved to intrinsically motivate those around you. But, of course, some people will be exclusively extrinsically motivated, and you cannot change this. For example, most Romanians are willing to change their jobs anytime for more money. This also illustrates a very high dependence on their daily bread and a tendency to consume all that is spent and to spend all that is earned (which may indicate a lack of financial education), but also a tendency for employers to buy the feeling of extrinsic motivation.

Well, even if someone applies extrinsic motivation, that does not mean that people will feel intrinsically motivated; it only means that as long as you allow yourself to give as much as possible from what another person can also offer, you will have them on your side. Extrinsic motivation is more expensive than respect.

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2007-present Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “Diferenţa între motivare şi motivaţiepreviously published by Marcus Victor Grant in Romanian on the 5th of March 2014 on Discerne. Originally written in 2007. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved

The materials on this blog are subject to this disclaimer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.