Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation - The Raccoopod Episode 5

The Raccoopod Podcast

On this episode of the Raccoopod we break down Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation.  What it is, why it’s important and how we use this understanding when designing a gamification system.


Welcome to the Raccoopod! Where the goal of our podcast is to give you the insights into gamification, what it is, and why you should consider it for your applications. I’m your host Zach Bearinger, and Today we are going to be exploring the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  What are they and how do we use them in gamification to better our users?  Let’s jump in 

So lets first off look at defining Motivation as it’s important to understand motivation itself before we break it down into it’s intrinsic and extrinsic components.  Ok so from very well mind  Quote “Motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors.”  So motivation is why a person does something and is the driving force behind human behaviour.  Easy to understand, so how do intrinsic and extrinsic motivation fall into that definition?  

Both of these terms are looking at where the motivation is coming from, whether it is coming from outside or inside.  Extrinsic motivation is when your motivators come from forces outside yourself commonly in gamification this can be points, levels and rewards.  Intrinsic motivation is where you feel that you are motivated to do something because you want to, either because you find it enjoyable, or see it as an opportunity to learn or grow.

Ok, so simple enough extrinsic is things that are motivating you that are outside of you and intrinsic motivation is you doing something because it’s a thing you want to do for a personal reason.  So how do we use these concepts when designing gamification?  For us we take cues from self determination theory, which we will do an episode on in the future.  But it looks into how to get someone from being extrinsically motivated to intrinsically motivated.

For gamification applications that are designed to help users develop a skill or habit knowing and utilising the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.  Surface level gamification is choc full of extrinsic motivation, points, levels and in-app rewards.  By only adding such mechanics you can add extrinsic motivation but without the feeling of accomplishment that intrinsic motivation provides you’ll have a hollow experience.  By the nature of gamification, developing extrinsic motivation is easy but you have to set a plan for shifting users to intrinsic motivation.  How you should approach this depends on what you are gamifying, as the end goal will differ if you are gamifying a course or a treatment plan.  Some will provide a natural draw into internal gamification, such as with a fitness app.  

Let’s run with the fitness example to go through how a user will move from external motivation to internal.  So a user is looking to get more fit and has chosen your gamified application, you have them set goals, join some groups/challenges with other users in the same boat.  Your gamification mechanics keep encouraging the user to start exercising.  At this point they are extrinsically motivated.  Now they start getting fitter and start to enjoy exercising and start noticing their abilities improve.  They start trying new exercises and sports, they start to enjoy feeling fit and now workout not just to progress in the app but also because they feel better after working out.  At this point they are starting to shift into mostly intrinsic motivation.  The user starts setting goals outside of the app, joining a group to go on hikes and races.  They are doing different exercises because they see the intrinsic value now.

That’ll wrap up this podcast about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, we hope that you are clearer on what they are, how to use them and why it’s important in gamification.

Thanks for listening! You can find the podcast on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google podcast.  We’d really appreciate subscribers, feedback and shares to help grow the podcast.  If you’re interested in learning more about our app development services or how gamification can help your organization, feel free to book an exploratory call today and meet the pack at Raccoopack Media!  If you have any suggestions for future episodes message us on social media  two c’s two o’s have a great day.


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