Types Of Motivation

A Guide to Various Types of Motivation

Since birth, we have all been involved in many types of motivation whether we were aware of it or not.  It is a fact of life that it will also continue to affect us in some form or another throughout our lifetime.



The definition of motivation is the communication to an internal force that serves to put into motion a behavior, thought process, action or reaction.  Motivation can take either positive or negative forms, and might be accomplished through words, actions, situations, or either external or internal forces.  Different types of motivation can be more beneficial than others in various situations.  The most commonly applied types are primary, secondary, intrinsic, extrinsic and incentive.

Primary motivation is the very basic function of self preservation.  The need to eat, drink, be warm, avoid pain and even participate in sex is driven by primary motivation.  It is impossible to say how one would behave when placed in an extreme situation involving one of these fundamental needs.  Many crimes have been reportedly carried out by those who feel “driven” to steal food or to kill another human to stop inhumane treatment.  This is one of the types of motivation that we are all inclined to exercise under the right conditions, although few of us know how we would react.

Secondary motivation is considered to be a learned motivation, and will be different for each person.  These types of motivation are what propel us through life; a conscious desire for something specific, whether a goal or a result that makes us act in such a manner so to bring about the achievement of that specific goal or result.  Two types of motivation fall under the category of secondary motivation:  intrinsic and extrinsic.

Learning and perfecting a new skill can be a great example of this.  Take the example of becoming proficient in a foreign language.  The knowledge and pride of gaining this skill is the psychological reward, or intrinsic motivation of the individual, while hearing the praise or earning a top grade in school for mastering the skill is the extrinsic reward for the student.  In other words, intrinsic is an internal reward, which extrinsic is the external reward.

Gaining a physical reward, such as a gift, prize or promotion, as a result of a type of behavior is termed incentive motivation.  These types of motivation techniques are often used with small children in potty training, or even with animals in training exercises.  Incentives in the workplace, especially sales, are often rewarded in this manner.  A trip to Aruba is received for the top sales quota achieved among a group of salespeople, for example.    

Different types of motivation techniques are applied in different situations to achieve goals. Potty training, skills in school or rewards in the workplace, motivation follows us throughout life.