Motivation and emotion/Lectures/Extrinsic motivation and psychological needs

Lecture 04: Extrinsic motivation and psychological needs

Resource type: this resource contains a lecture or lecture notes.

This is the fourth lecture for the Motivation and emotion unit of study.


This lecture discusses human motivation in terms of:

  • extrinsic and intrinsic motivation (and a taxonomy of motivation)
  • psychological needs (autonomy, competence, relatedness)

Key question: What is the secret sauce recipe for unlocking "intrinsic motivation"?

Take-home messages:

  • The quality of motivation (intrinsic vs. extrinsic) is as important as quantity of motivation
  • To flourish, motivation needs conditions which support autonomy, competence, and relatedness


  • The surprising science of motivation (Dan Pink, RSA Animate, YouTube) (10:47 min): Explains the psychological ingredients for harnessing motivation in the workplace. External motivators such as money are useful up to a point, but beyond that the work needs to allow for autonomy and be meaningful to engage intrinsic motivation.
  • What makes us feel good about our work? (Dan Ariely, TEDx talk, 2013) (10:32 min): This video describes several eye-opening experiments which manipulate the way simple tasks are conducted and measure how this affects people's performance and reaction. A key conclusion is that the amount of control and effort we put into a task influences how much value the outcome.

What these videos have in common is the message that the more complex the task, the more important is intrinsic motivation, connection, and meaning/purpose.


  1. Chapter 05: Extrinsic motivation and internalisation (Reeve, 2018)
  2. Chapter 06: Psychological needs (Reeve, 2018)


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