Types Of Motivation

Here is the ultimate guide to the different types of motivation.


People often speak of motivation as though it’s some type of ethereal or spiritual essence, something that can’t truly be understood. However, there is considerable evidence that science, including psychologists, understand a great deal about the different types of motivation.

The first keys to understanding motivation (and subsequently harnessing it for one’s own benefit) is to figure out the different types that exist. In essence, there are two primary forms of motivation (though there are two others, which are discussed later): intrinsic and extrinsic. In order to understand these better, it’s necessary to delve into the psychology of these terms and the human psyche.

It is also vital to have a clear understanding (grasp) of various concepts about motivation and how it applies in certain structures, including employment and education.

Types of Motivation in Psychology

Within the psychological construct, there is intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. It’s necessary to have a clear understanding about each of these in order to see how various factors can influence a person’s motivational foundation.

Intrinsic motivation means that the stimuli that impact behavior, goals, or thoughts come internally. If there is a strong desire to complete a task, it is usually driven by the need for acceptance, out of curiosity, a sense of independence, seeking to establish order, the pursuit of power, engaging in social contact or even acquiring a higher social status, and possibly even honor.

With regard to extrinsic motivation, the factors that pushes somebody to accomplish a task come from outside that individual. For example, a person who works at a job they don’t like, but manages to wake up every morning and get there on time because they are driven by the need for a paycheck is an extrinsic motivator.

There are several different components about motivation within the realm of psychology, including a variety of theories that have similar underlying characteristics but differ in how they are all put together.

Different Types of Motivation Theories

There are numerous motivational theories that exist, including Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Alderfer’s ERG Theory, Acquired Needs Theory by McClelland, and even Cognitive Evaluation Theory (touched on earlier).

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs essentially focuses on different levels of needs that must he be met in order for somebody to be ‘motivated’ to perform a certain task. This hierarchy involves physiological, safety issues, the sense of belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization.

In Alderfer’s ERG Theory, basic needs are broken down into three basic categories: growth needs, relational needs, and existence needs. As one can see, this is actually similar to Maslow’s hierarchy, but some claim that this theory is more practical.

In the Acquired Needs Theory, life experiences have a direct impact on some specific needs, such as the desire or ‘need’ for achievement, affiliation, or power.

With Cognitive Evaluation Theory, we basically get down to the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators mentioned previously.

In recent years, Tony Robbins has developed what he calls the “6 Needs” which include:

1. Certainty & Comfort

We all have the need to know that we are safe and will be taken care of. Most of the people who end up in poverty or struggle through life have the belief their needs won’t be met and therefore it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

2. Uncertainty & Variety

We all have the need to be challenged and for there to be enough variety in life to keep us engaged and interested, otherwise life would become mundane and boring.

3. Significance

We all have the need to feel important and unique. That in some way, shape, or form, we are different and special.

4. Love & Connection

We all have the need to feel loved and appreciated by family and friends.

5. Growth

We all have the need to grow and improve ourselves each day.

6. Contribution

We all have the need to give back to our community and society and play a significant role in being helpful.

Tony proclaims that when these six needs are met, it will drive us to become motivated to continue living a passionate life because it meets our needs of fulfilling our purpose in life.

4 Types of Motivation

As mentioned, the two primary types of motivation are intrinsic and extrinsic, but that’s not all that exist. There is also introjected motivation and identified motivation.

Introjected motivation is internalized, just like intrinsic motivation, but where it differs lies in the emotion of guilt. With this type of motivation, if a task or goal is not completed, there will be an acute sense or tension of guilt.

Identified motivation exists were the person realizes something actually does need to be completed, but he or she has not taken steps to actually do anything about it.

Types of Employee Motivation

Within the realm of organizations, including businesses, many leaders have constantly sought out ways to motivate their employees more effectively. To focus on employee motivation, Merrill and Reid identified four specific personality styles, or types, that could play a factor in determining what would motivate one employee more effectively.

These personal styles are:


An employee with a driver personality style will be action-oriented. Someone who is expressive is not be motivated by routine, but has a tendency to prefer involving others.

Somebody who is amiable will be relationship oriented and the analytical employee is more focused on being right and that helps motivate them to focus on the details others may miss.

Types of Motivation in Education

For students, motivation can be focused on grades, accomplishment, achieving success, and much more. The most common motivators for students are achievement, such as attaining a certain grade, completing a program, or being listed at the top of their class.

Others are affiliation motivated, meaning they are more focused on their social status and connections than grades or accomplishments.

Competence motivation focuses on those who are focused on becoming good at something, even if it appears to be little more than minutia on the surface.

Still other students are driven by power motivators, such as the desire to rise up and gain more status, which may preclude any sense of community.

What Are the 5 Types of Power?

Speaking of power, there are essentially five types of power.

They are:

-Coercive power
-Reward power
-Legitimate power
-Referent to power
-Expert power

  • Coercive power essentially focuses on forcing others to do something against their will.
  • Reward power is a form of delegation that focuses on the key abilities and tones of individuals and delegating responsibility to them.
  • Legitimate power is, in essence, linking feelings of obligation or a sense of duty to the task at hand. Providing rewards or discipline to employees, for example, may be viewed as a legitimate power.
  • Referent power is management based and is more focused on creating a sense of acceptance or approval. Leaders who focus on this type of power are usually seen as positive role models.
  • Expert power is essentially focused on the depth of knowledge or information or expertise an individual possesses.

How Many Types of Motivation Are There?

There are four basic types of motivation, including:


What Does It Mean to Be Internally Motivated?

If a person has a sincere desire to accomplish a certain goal without procrastinating, complete a task, even to the point of setting aside other hobbies, interests, or factors in their life, they will most likely be internally or externally motivated. If those desires come from a sense of accomplishment, the desire to be accepted and well-liked, or to have positive self-esteem, that would be internally motivated.

If, on the other hand, an individual is pursuing a paycheck, a specific grade, or approval from others, that would be external or extrinsic motivation. When a person finds the sense of accomplishment coming from within, then that would be an individual who is internally motivated.

What Are Ways To Motivate People?

The best way to motivate someone is to first understand what they want. What inspires them to take action in life. Once you have a clear understanding of what they link “pleasure” to, then it is much easier to get someone to move in a specific direction.

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