Motivation can be defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains behaviours aimed at achieving an objective or satisfying a need .

It is the force that makes us act and allows us to move forward even in difficult situations. Going to get a glass of water when you are thirsty, studying all night to pass the driving test that you want so much, or training hard to be the best in a championship, are all possible thanks to it.

However, just as the challenges and projects we set ourselves are very varied, so are the types of motivation from which our strength to achieve our goals is born. That is exactly what I am going to talk about in this article: the types of motivation.

  • A theory that analyzes human needs: “Maslow’s Pyramid”

Psychology’s interest in motivation

Many psychologists have been interested in the study of motivation, because is a basic principle in the behaviour of human beings : nobody moves without a motivation, without a reason for it. Being motivated means carrying out daily tasks without them becoming a burden and keeping us alive. But not only that, motivation is related to other psychological variables, such as stress level, self-esteem, concentration, etc., and, as many studies have indicated, it has an effect on the health and well-being of all of us.

Therefore, there are many theories that speak of human motivation, among them the already mentioned Maslow’s Pyramid, the three factors of McClelland or the dual factor theory of Herzberg . By studying motivation, different approaches have been developed that are applicable to different fields: work, sport, learning, etc. This has led several authors to classify motivation under different names.

Types of motivation

The degree of motivation of each individual is not directly proportional to the value of that which provokes it, but rather it is the importance given to it by the person who receives it that determines the strength or the level of motivation.

We will now explain the different types of motivation, as well as the different sources of motivation that drive us to perform certain acts.

Extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation

1. Extrinsic motivation

The extrinsic motivation refers to the fact that motivational stimuli come from outside the individual and from outside the activity. Therefore, motivating factors are external rewards such as money or recognition by others . Extrinsic motivation is not based on the satisfaction of carrying out the chain of actions that make up what we are doing, but on a reward that is only indirectly related to it, as if it were a by-product.

For example: an individual may work hard to earn more money or may study very hard because of the social recognition that a good job provides once they have finished their studies. A person who is extrinsically motivated by a task that he has to deliver, will work hard at it despite having little interest, because the anticipation of the external reinforcer will motivate him to finish it on time.

2. Intrinsic motivation

The intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from within the individual rather than from any external reward. It is associated with desires for self-realization and personal growth, and is related to the pleasure a person feels in performing an activity, which allows a person to be in a “Flow State” when performing the activity.

For example: an individual who attends training sessions for his soccer team simply for the pleasure of playing his favorite sport.

Intrinsic motivation is the type of motivation most closely linked to good productivity , since where the individual is involved he does not limit himself to fulfilling the minimum necessary to obtain the reward, but gets personally involved in what he does and decides to put a great deal of effort into it.

Positive vs. negative motivation

3. Positive motivation

The positive motivation refers to the process by which an individual initiates or maintains adherence to a behavior by obtaining a positive reward, either external or internal (for the pleasure of the activity).

4.Negative motivation

Negative motivation refers to the process by which a person initiates or remains attached to a behaviour in order to avoid an unpleasant consequence, either external (punishment, humiliation, etc.) or internal (avoiding the feeling of frustration or failure).

Other types of motivation

The literature on sports psychology has also provided information on other types of motivation related to the world of physical activity and sport.

Basic motivation vs. everyday motivation

5.Basic motivation

The basic motivation refers to the stable basis of motivation that determines the level of commitment of an athlete to his/her activity. It refers to an Athlete’s interest in sports results, personal performance and/or the positive consequences of both.

6.Daily motivation

The daily motivation refers to an athlete’s interest in daily activity and the immediate gratification it produces.

Ego-centered vs. task-oriented motivational orientation

7.Ego-centered motivational orientation

This type of motivation refers to the fact that athletes’ motivation depends on challenges and results compared to other athletes.

8.Task-centered motivational orientation

Motivation depends on personal challenges and results, and subjective impressions of mastery and progress.

Both orientations are orthogonal and not opposite. Therefore, there can be athletes with both high orientations, both low orientations, with a high ego-centered orientation but low task orientation and with a high task orientation but low ego-centered orientation.

Let’s move on to practice: how to motivate yourself?

We invite you to learn a series of strategies and keys to keep your motivation high .

  • You can read the article: The 10 keys to motivate oneself

Bibliographic references:

  • Benjamin Lowry, Paul; Gaskin, James; Twyman, Nathan W.; Hammer, Bryan; Roberts, Tom L. (2013). Taking fun and games seriously: Proposing the hedonic-motivation system adoption model (HMSAM). 14 (11): 617–671.
  • Berridge, Kent C; Kringelbach, Morten L (2013). Neuroscience of affect: brain mechanisms of pleasure and displeasure. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 23 (3): 294-303.
  • Marinak, Barbara A.; Gambrell, Linda B. (2008). Intrinsic Motivation and Rewards: What Sustains Young Children’s Engagement with Text. Literacy Research and Instruction. 47: 9–26.
  • Uysal, Muzaffer (1994). Testing the push and pull factors. Annals of Tourism Research. 21 (4): 844–846.