What Are Some Types of Motivation?

The two basic types of motivation are intrinsic, or internal, arising from an individual's own natural desire to complete a task, and extrinsic, or external, encouraging individuals to complete a task with the promise of reward or the threat of punishment. Research supports intrinsic motivation as the more effective type, especially for long-term goals.

Depending on the specific task in question, intrinsic factors of motivation might include natural curiosity and the desire to feel accepted by or to gain advantage over one's peers. An individual might also be intrinsically motivated to complete a task if it is compatible to their beliefs and values.

Extrinsic factors of motivation, on the other hand, include financial rewards, distinctions and awards, such as being named "employee of the month" or punishments like detentions or fines.

In some contexts, such as mainstream education, extrinsic factors of motivation are routinely used in the absence of student's natural motivation to study. However, motivating students with grades, for instance, tends only to be effective in the short term and may result in a net loss of motivation in the long term.

The same can be said of career advancement. Psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania have observed that extrinsic factors like monetary rewards are actually counterproductive in the long term. Instead, those with a genuine desire to advance in a career for its own sake, such as those in the military, are considered more likely to succeed.