More about Extrinsic Motivation


From the book:
“The Motivated Brain” – written by Helle Bundgaard, Founder, Motivation Factor and
Jefferson Roy, neuroscientist, The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT.
All rights reserved – Motivationfactor 2015)


Extrinsic Motivation

What it is:

Those externally supplied conditions that meet our basic or minimum Needs. As Maslow, Herzberg and Pink have all argued, these conditions are necessary to avoid dissatisfaction. Extrinsic motivation is fueled by primary Needs like salary, benefits, and a pleasant working environment. It can also include things like competition or incentive – any externally applied stimulus that prompts us to act.


What it looks like:

  • The salesperson “hungry” for financial incentives and therefore highly motivated to close sales.
  • The star employee whose family depends on the health benefits offered by the company.

Extrinsic motivation works well in the short term and when the external motivator has personal and near-term value as defined by the recipient. On the other hand, extrinsic motivators can result in unintended behaviors. For example, the sales person might focus on her own need for financial success instead of the customer’s need for an efficient solution, leading to low customer satisfaction. Or, in the case of your star employee, what happens if he no longer needs to work because his spouse got a job with better health insurance? As Herzberg and others have pointed out, extrinsic motivators are necessary but not enough and, moreover, have an escalating threshold for minimum satisfaction.

The Motivated Brain was released June 13th 2014 as:


  • e-book
  • Kindle-book, and..
  • Paperback

..on See reviews here.

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