In my previous post on motivation – Motivation and the Secrets to Getting Things Done – I introduced the distinction between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. In today’s post I will try to briefly summarise some of what we know about extrinsic motivation. As a reminder:
Extrinsic motivation refers to external forces that influence our behaviour. Praise, financial rewards and punishment are all examples of extrinsic motivation. If I say I drove to the beach because my friend paid me $300 to give him a lift, I am referring to an extrinsic motivation.
Operant conditioning is the technical term used in the behavioural sciences for learning from consequences. If you repeatedly experience static electric shocks when you touch a particular door handle and this causes you to insulate your hand with your sleeve whenever you go through that door, or to use a different door, this is an example of operant conditioning: You have learned to alter your behaviour to avoid experiencing the unpleasantness of a static electric shock.