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Intrinsic Motivation

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Two girls (7-9) playing with plastic hoops in park Bec Parsons/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Definition: Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from inside an individual rather than from any external or outside rewards, such as money or grades.

The motivation comes from the pleasure one gets from the task itself or from the sense of satisfaction in completing or even working on a task.

An intrinsically motivated person will work on a math equation, for example, because it is enjoyable. Or an intrinsically motivated person will work on a solution to a problem because the challenge of finding a solution is provides a sense of pleasure. In neither case does the person work on the task because there is some reward involved, such as a prize, a payment, or in the case of students, a grade.

Intrinsic motivation does not mean, however, that a person will not seek rewards. It just means that such external rewards are not enough to keep a person motivated. An intrinsically motivated student, for example, may want to get a good grade on an assignment, but if the assignment does not interest that student, the possibility of a good grade is not enough to maintain that student's motivation to put any effort into the project.

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