What makes you wake up every morning, go to work and class, start a new project, try something new, or decide to change a habit? I think there may be many reasons for this, and everyone's reasons are different, but generally speaking, it starts with a motive, the most basic reason for you to start an action, and you want to understand the source of the action, and various explanations of the action. There are countless theories. This article will talk about Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory.

Three motivational orientations:

  • Amotivation: In this state, the behavior is meaningless or not necessary at all.
  • Extrinsic Motivation: We perform this behavior because we want to satisfy some external results, such as obtaining rewards, avoiding punishment, or social recognition.
  • Intrinsic Motivation: Behavior is completely based on inner needs, with a high degree of autonomy and creativity.

From this classification point of view, the more our actions are based on intrinsic motivation, the more we can get a sense of inner satisfaction and accomplishment, because this thing itself is important to you, and it is what you want to do, not To satisfy the needs of others or to receive rewards. For example, interest is an intrinsic motivation. If your interest is sports today, you will feel satisfied and happy while engaging in a certain sport. You may also actively set some goals and gain benefits by achieving these goals. A sense of accomplishment. Of course, whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, we may get satisfaction from it, but through intrinsic motivation, we have complete autonomy and are more able to persist in doing something for a long time.

Three psychological needs

So how to increase intrinsic motivation? Self-determination theory also mentions that people tend to satisfy three psychological needs:

  • Competence: When we need to accomplish something, we naturally need the corresponding ability. With certain mature abilities, an individual can accomplish what he wants to do more confidently and effectively.
  • Autonomy: The most direct way to increase autonomy is to try to ask yourself, what things are important? Why do you do this? In this way, we can clarify the reasons for our actions to a certain extent and reduce our dependence on external factors.
  • Relatedness: We can increase our connections with others through many different ways, such as participating in activities that we are interested in or occasionally arranging time to chat with friends. The important thing is that what we want to establish is not just a connection. Quantity, but the quality of relationships with others. When an action receives support and understanding from relatives, friends, or important others, it can also promote our intrinsic motivation.

Simply put, people can enhance their intrinsic motivation by satisfying these three psychological needs, thereby increasing individual satisfaction and happiness. In addition to these general directions, there are also some tips that can help you and others build better intrinsic motivation.

Three tips to help others increase their intrinsic motivation:

  • Positive feedback: When there is an opportunity to provide feedback to others, first focus on what others have accomplished and progressed, and give suggestions based on performance rather than goals. To put it simply, if we only look at goals, then what we focus on is "How far is he from his goal now?", "Why has he not achieved his goal?" If we also pay attention to performance, we can ask questions like this: "What allowed you to complete the current progress?", "What else do you think you can do?" , “What methods can be adjusted?”
  • Provide choices and opportunities: Compared with standard regulations, many organizations are now becoming more and more flexible. Setting flexible working hours within an acceptable range, some independent time, or allowing employees to set goals for themselves can all improve personal autonomy and intrinsic motivation.
  • Reduce external incentives: Incentives are one of the reasons why we continue, but too many external incentives often cause dependence. Once such rewards change or disappear, the behavior will stop because we can't find a reason to continue. Therefore, the ideal method should be to first understand what the other person's inner motivations are and what is important to him, and then arrange customized rewards.

In summary, intrinsic motivation is important, but not everything in real life can be accomplished with intrinsic motivation, because there are always some things that we don’t like very much but must do, so extrinsic motivation is still necessary. , and in fact, extrinsic motivation still occupies a large proportion in organizations or life, which shows that it is still effective. What I want to say here is that when facing external motivations, we may think about how this matter is related to our interests, passions, and goals. What can you gain from it?

In other words, finding the meaning of doing something can help us get closer to our inner motivations, allowing us to enjoy it, find fun, and gain a sense of accomplishment.



Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2004). Fostering healthy self-regulation from within and without A self-determination theory perspective. In A. P. Linley & S. Joseph (Eds.), Positive psychology in practice (pp. 105–124). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Reis, H. T, Sheldon, K. M., Gable, S. L., Roscoe, J., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). Daily well-being: The role of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 419–435.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American psychologist, 55(1), 68.