Home Pros and Cons 6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Extrinsic Motivation

6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Extrinsic Motivation

Let’s suppose a student doesn’t like math but also doesn’t give up on studying it. Why do they go to such great lengths to study a subject they aren’t interested in? This is an example of a student who is extrinsically motivated. They study math despite their dislike for it because they will be rewarded with good grades which gives them satisfaction and pleasure.

Extrinsic motivation isn’t just applicable for students – it’s applicable to everyone. For instance, employees who seek to receive compensation increases or bonuses will work hard in a job they don’t even care for. Although not everyone operates in this manner, it’s not an unusual event. It’s clear that extrinsic motivation comes with advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a closer look at the two:

List of Advantages of Extrinsic Motivation

1. It drives a person to perform a task even if they are not interested in it.
How many times have we done something just for the reward? Take kids for example. They don’t want to do the dishes but they will happily do it knowing there is a certain reward at the end. Adults are also extrinsically motivated, particularly those who work at jobs they don’t even like. For instance, an aspiring writer might work hard at their first job knowing it will lead to better opportunities.

2. It allows a person to set goals.
Having goals is healthy because it gives you something to work hard for. Reaching for your goals is what makes you get up early in the morning. It’s what makes you drive or commute to work despite the heavy traffic. You do it because you know that all your sacrifices will be rewarded.

3. It is a way to survive.
What happens if we constantly give up without a fight? We might lose the will to live and that is something that we shouldn’t let happen. Yes, we may not love our jobs but it’s what pays the bills and keeps us fed. It takes a lot of patience to stay at one job while waiting for better opportunities but as others have proven, it can be done.

List of Disadvantages of Extrinsic Motivation

1. It is not sustainable.
The main drawback of extrinsic motivation is the reward. Knowing you will get something when you complete a task you don’t even care for is enough for some people. However, when that reward is taken away, thoughts race to “What am I doing this for?” Nothing will get accomplished without motivation.

2. It provides diminishing returns.
When the rewards are the same year after year, this likely won’t motivate people to work harder. It has been shown that the bigger the reward, the more motivation someone will have.

3. It makes an activity less enjoyable.
Being motivated solely for the reward can drive people to lose interest in it over time. People lose the desire to do tasks on their own – they constantly need to be motivated.

Although extrinsic motivation isn’t the best motivator, it’s hard to deny its role in getting us moving even when the going is tough.