5 Different Types of Motivation

Potrait of young player sitting on football

It's important for teachers, employers and leaders in other venues to understand the five major types of human motivation. A combination of intrinsic motivation and external regulation factors encourages individuals toward autonomy, which in turn enhances their self-esteem and overall sense of well-being. Students and employees who feel confident and autonomous are more likely to perform better and achieve more than their less-positive counterparts.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is inspired solely from the interest and enjoyment that a person finds in an activity. For instance, if a person feels motivated to play a game of football and his motivation stems from the joy that he experiences while playing, not the promise of a prize or any other influence, then his motivation is intrinsic. Intrinsic motivation fosters creativity and high-quality learning. It also encourages a sense of autonomy because the individual is acting out of his own interest and nothing else. People's hobbies are usually intrinsically motivated because people pursue them out of a sense of interest and enjoyment that's seldom found in their school or work activities.

External Regulation

People are motivated by external regulation due to an external acting influence. If an individual exhibits a behavior to obtain an externally provided reward, then her behavior is externally regulated. For example, if a person enters the science fair because she wants to win a gift certificate for a restaurant, she's not acting out of what interests her personally but out of a desire to obtain the reward. External motivation is often used to encourage employees or students to take part in a behavior that they must complete but may not be genuinely interested in — that way, even if they don't otherwise wish to engage in the behavior, they do so to obtain the reward.

Introjected Regulation

Introjected regulation is motivation from an internalized, pressuring voice. The source of motivation for a behavior is guilt, worry or shame. Introjected regulation inspires an individual to enact a behavior not because he wants to, but because he fears not to out of a sense of obligation. An example of introjected regulation is a person who goes to church every Sunday because he fears a negative effect in the afterlife or the negative reaction of his peers at a church event — he doesn't necessarily find enjoyment in the service itself. Avoid this form of motivation if at all possible, as it fosters anxiety. When succumbing to this form of motivation, it's difficult for individuals to feel positive and confident about their actions.

Identified Regulation

If a person has personally identified with the importance of a behavior and accepted it as a regulation of her own because it benefits her in achieving a goal, she's motivated by identified regulation. With this form of motivation, the individual doesn't have to find enjoyment in the behavior, and there doesn't have to be an immediate reward. The person also isn't motivated by guilt or shame: She simply recognizes that a behavior is beneficial toward her development and adopts that behavior as her own.

For instance, a person may recognize that studying grammar for English class is an important means to the end of becoming a successful writer. This is a subcategory of external motivation that's more self-determined and personal than external regulation: External regulation may be for a more immediate positive reward, while identified regulation is used to achieve an end that affects an individual's personal well-being and desires.

Integrated Regulation

Integrated regulation is a form of motivation that arises when a person has fully integrated a motivation within himself. His behavior is influenced by integrated regulation when he undergoes self-examination and then internalizes and assimilates the reasons behind an action. He has carefully explored external motivations and decided that they're congruent with his other personal beliefs and values. An example of integrated regulation as motivation would be a person who attends church because he believes that the act aligns with his personal belief system, even if he doesn't attend for the sheer enjoyment of it. He doesn't feel guilt or shame if he doesn't attend — he attends because he feels it's right and suitable for him.