Motivation part 2 – Rewards and Punishment

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

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.
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Motivation and the secrets to getting things done – part 1 – Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation

What makes you get out of bed in the morning? What makes you go to work? What makes you read a book, or sit down to watch tv?

All of these actions in our daily lives are driven by motivation. But what does that really mean?

Motivation is something I have been thinking about – and researching – a lot recently. Motivation has been on my mind because one of the biggest challenges in providing effective psychological treatment for depression seems to be overcoming motivational barriers that are a symptom of depression. For example, exercise is known to be an effective treatment for depression – but how can a depressed person exercise consistently enough to experience improvement in mood when two of the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder suggest significant problems of motivation?
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