Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation

Ivan, I’m not drooling again until I see more chow!

Extrinsic motivation is incentive coming from outside one self.  Intrinsic motivation is incentive coming from our very being.

Extrinsic motivation can be beneficial, at least short-term, when properly implemented within the normal weight coaching environment.  It is important to remember that the effects of extrinsic motivation, without using the coercive practice of extinction, are only temporary in nature.

Extinction is a strategy based on applied behavior analysis that is used to reduce or eliminate unwanted behavior. Extinction involves withdrawing or terminating positive reinforcement or giving negative cues.  The interfering behavior is likely to increase in frequency and intensity (extinction burst) before it is extinguished as the client seeks to elicit the reinforcers previously provided.

It may be that  many weight loss coaches don’t have the power over the client or the inclination to employ this strategy but this extinction strategy may be seen in the disapproval or removing of approval of significant others in the clients support system.  It may be evidenced in a dieter’s compensatory eating (extinction burst) or giving up altogether on the idea through rationalization or self-handicapping.

Extrinsic rewards, when used correctly, can be beneficial to athletes. However, athletes in highly competitive levels of sport may experience decreases in their intrinsic motivation because of the increasing use of extrinsic rewards offered by the media, coaches, and parents.   Has it ever occurred that a professional baseball player, upon signing a mega contract, has a substandard year?

Setting yourself a goal to lose a specific amount of weight gives you something to aim for and something to be motivated by.  What happens when the goal is achieved?  Without going into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a satisfied need has no impetus to further motivate behavior.

Intrinsic motivation is when a person is motivated to be something based on an internal reward, such as enjoyment of the activity itself and/or a desire to maintain the rewards of that activity. You are intrinsically motivated if you are driven to become “slim and trim”.

For instance, leading a lifestyle to be slim and trim is to gain a sense of internal pleasure and fulfillment by maintaining that lifestyle. When a person is intrinsically motivated to be something, the rewards for engaging in it include a sense of satisfaction. Benefits of this type of motivation can include a sense of accomplishment and increased self-awareness.  Intrinsic motivation can also increase autonomy and sense of purpose.

It is well known in psychology that people who are intrinsically motivated to be something perform at a far higher level than those who are extrinsically motivated to do something.  Intrinsic motivation is inherent motivation inside an individual that leads them to performing under their own free will.

Intrinsic motivation comes from within, driving you to succeed based on inner goals and ambition.

To see how to develop Intrinsic Motivation go to our site:  http://relaxandloseweight.org

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