< Back

Is Intrinsic Motivation the Catalyst of Motivation?

Motivation is a powerful force that drives our behaviour, shapes our goals, and influences the choices we make. This intrinsic drive, originating from within, serves as a powerful engine that not only propels individuals towards productivity but also shapes the quality and sustainability of their efforts. In this article, we will explore the essence of intrinsic motivation and how it serves as the invisible engine propelling us towards increased efficiency and satisfaction in our endeavors.

Understanding Intrinsic Motivation

At its core, intrinsic motivation is the motivation to engage in a behaviour because of the inherent satisfaction of the activity. It is the innate passion, curiosity, and genuine interest in an activity that propels one forward. Unlike extrinsic motivation, which relies on external rewards or punishments, intrinsic motivation is characterized by an inherent satisfaction derived from the activity itself.

For example, a person who loves painting not for the external recognition but because the act of creating art brings them joy and fulfillment. This individual is likely intrinsically motivated to paint, driven by an internal passion rather than external rewards.

The Three Pillars of Intrinsic Motivation

In the realm of psychology, the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) provides a framework for understanding intrinsic motivation. SDT identifies three fundamental psychological needs that, when satisfied, contribute to intrinsic motivation: autonomy, competence, and relatedness.


The need for autonomy is the desire to have control over one’s actions and choices. When individuals have the freedom to make decisions and pursue their interests without external constraints, they are more likely to be intrinsically motivated.


The need for competence involves the desire to feel effective and capable in one’s activities. When individuals perceive that they are mastering challenges and developing skills, it enhances their sense of competence and fuels intrinsic motivation.


The need for relatedness is the desire to connect with others and form positive relationships. A supportive and collaborative environment fosters a sense of relatedness, contributing to intrinsic motivation.

With that, when individuals are intrinsically motivated, tasks cease to be mere obligations; they become opportunities for growth and self-expression. Consider a workplace where employees are given autonomy in their projects, allowing them to apply their creativity and problem-solving skills. In such an environment, work becomes a fulfilling journey rather than a monotonous routine.

In educational settings, teachers who tap into students’ intrinsic motivation create engaging learning experiences. Allowing students to explore topics of interest, providing opportunities for hands-on learning, and fostering a sense of community contribute to an intrinsically motivated learning environment.

Fueling Productivity through Intrinsic Motivation

Passion Breeds Persistence

Intrinsic motivation is closely linked to persistence. When individuals are passionate about what they do, setbacks become learning opportunities rather than insurmountable obstacles. This resilience enhances productivity as individuals remain committed to their tasks.

Creativity Unleashed

Intrinsic motivation unleashes creativity. When individuals are motivated by a genuine interest in their work, they are more likely to approach problems with innovative solutions. This creativity contributes not only to productivity but also to the evolution of ideas and processes.

Satisfaction and Well-being

The pursuit of intrinsic goals is associated with higher levels of satisfaction and well-being. As individuals engage in activities that align with their values and interests, the positive emotions generated contribute to a fulfilling and balanced life.

Intrinsic motivation serves as the invisible engine that propels us toward increased productivity and personal satisfaction. Nurturing environments that support autonomy, competence, and relatedness can unlock the full potential of intrinsic motivation. As individuals and organizations embrace the intrinsic drivers within, the journey becomes not just about reaching the destination but about relishing the transformative process along the way.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

About the author Xin Xuan:

Xin Xuan is a professional counsellor and behaviour therapist specialising in evidence-based modalities such as cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance & commitment therapy, motivational interviewing, applied behaviour analysis therapy, play therapy, and more.