Dale’s hobby of collecting toy race cars is nothing short of amazing. It’s a mystery how he manages to spend at least an hour a day polishing the nearly 300 models that he has. He cleans them as if he is bathing a baby and handles them with the care that a glass sculptor would give to his masterpiece. Dale is extremely devoted to his hobby so much that whenever he goes to the mall, his first stop would always be the toy store and he would stay glued to one section for hours – the vehicle section.
He loves toy race cars so much that he can differentiate one car from the other just by the mere mention of the model. What is even more amazing (and perhaps extravagant to most people) is how much Dale spends on his toy car collection. One time, Dale saved 80% of his weekly allowance just so he could buy the latest “Let’s Go” toy car model. Dale not only spends money on his collection, he invests even more time and effort in putting a toy car together! Mind you, he disassembles and assembles at least 2 cars each day to the point that he could assemble at least 50 of his toy cars with a blindfold!! Beat that!
When I asked Dale why he goes to such lengths for his toy cars, his reply was simple—he just loved toy cars.
A hobby such as toy car collection is a great exemplification of intrinsic motivation. According to Malone and Lepper, intrinsic motivation is basically “what people will do without external inducement”. In simple terms, it is motivation devoid of any external or outside rewards, such as money or grades. If you have intrinsic motivation, you do a task simply for the pleasure or satisfaction in doing and/or completing that task. However, it doesn’t mean that an individual will not seek rewards if he has intrinsic motivation. An intrinsically motivated person acknowledges the perk of rewards, but these rewards are not enough to keep that person motivated. In other words, with or without the reward, the person will continue to do the task, for as long as he has interest or believes in it.
If you can make someone align his values to yours, thus giving him an internal desire for the idea or value, you can set a very powerful motivation in the area. That is the power of intrinsic motivation. Plus, unlike extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation lasts longer because desires take time to be extinguished.
How do you increase intrinsic motivation? Here are a few things you should consider:
• Set challenges. A challenge is one type of intrinsic motivation. A challenge not only defines a person’s interest, it also turns a flame of desire to a burning bush of passion! Competence is a psychological need satisfied by setting challenges. In the 1970’s, Akio Morita challenged his chief engineers to make a hi-fi device no larger than a block of wood. This pumped up the imagination of the engineers, and voila! The walkman was born!
• Boredom is an arch nemesis of intrinsic motivation. Once an idea or task becomes monotonous and familiar, pleasure in doing the task will surely go down to an all-time low.
• Interest is another type of intrinsic motivation. Work becomes more pleasurable when you are interested in it. You might find it pleasurable to design a website. But you get more fired up when it’s the website of your favorite band you’re designing right?
• Purpose also increases intrinsic motivation. When we are achieving something essential, we tend to stay on the process longer than when we do not feel that what we are doing has a purpose.
• Extrinsic motivation can reinforce intrinsic motivation. A person who loves math will be more driven to solve a Trigonometry problem if it means getting exempted in the final exam. But be wary, too much external rewards will ultimately hurt the individual’s intrinsic motivation. If the math lover above is continuously given merits for his mathematical prowess, there will come a time that his love for math will be replaced by a love for good grades which is a source of extrinsic motivation. When this happens, his intrinsic motivation is dampened.
If you want to nail intrinsic motivation, remember that it only occurs for activities wherein the person has an inherent interest. That is to say, there must be a seed of interest before intrinsic motivation does it’s so called “wonders”.