The 10 types of motivation (and their characteristics)


What keeps us up at night to finish a work project or finish studying a university exam? Why do we keep training in the gym when we are already exhausted and our body asks us to rest?

Motivation is an essential skill in humans. Without an inner force or energy to keep us on track, it would be impossible to pursue and achieve our goals and dreams. No matter what the goal is or if it is small or big, we always need to be motivated to get what we want in life.

In any area of our life we need motivation. It is a basic principle of human behavior and is related to many other events and concepts, such as self-esteem, stress, pressure, dreams, emotions, concentration … All this makes it not only a difficult phenomenon to study on a cognitive level, but the variety of forms of motivation is enormous.We recommend you read: “The 16 personality types (and their characteristics)”

And as a result of this diversity, different types of motivation are born. And as we will see throughout this article, depending on the source, the stimuli that trigger it and its objective, motivation can be classified into different types.

When we feel that energy that drives us and gives us strength to reach our goal, we do not stop to think about what is happening in our brain. But psychologists, over the years, have. And that’s where the concept of motivation was born.

Motivation, then, can be defined as the set of neurological processes that are activated by a certain stimulus and that culminate in the production of a series of hormones and neurotransmitters that lead us to activate. This energy drives, moves and guides us so that our actions are focused on a specific objective, which is always related to satisfying some human need.

But what do we mean by this necessity? Without going too much into the subject (since I would give for a different article), Psychology defends that, using as a basis the studies of Abraham Maslow, American psychologist of the twentieth century and one of the founders of humanistic Psychology, all human beings have a series of needs, which follow a hierarchical structure in the form of a pyramid.

In this structure, which is called Maslow’s Pyramid, we can see that at the base there are some basic needs and that we climb to a point where, although the needs are not basic, they are important for our emotional well-being. From the base to the tip we have the following needs: physiological (eating, drinking, breathing, sleeping, reproducing …), security (having a job, a family, a house, money …), affiliation (having family, friends and partner), recognition (respect, success, confidence …) and self-realization (improvement, creativity, self-image …).

We say all this because motivation is always born from covering one of these parts of the pyramid. Therefore, motivation is the energy that is born from within us always with the aim of covering some of the previous human needs. First those of the base must be covered and, as soon as they are, you can go up in level.

Motivation can vary in intensity depending on how much we want to meet that need and also varies and evolves throughout life, as our needs, dreams, goals and aspirations also change. What are the main types of motivation?

Now that we have understood what motivation is, we can move on to analyze the different types that exist. Motivation can be classified according to different parameters: the motivating factors, the outcome of the activity, the relationship with others, the origin of the need and the role of sport.

Below we present the types of each.1. According to the motivating factor

Depending on whether the motivating factor is within ourselves or outside, motivation can be classified as extrinsic or intrinsic.1.1. Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation is the energy that drives us to achieve something when the motivating factor is not within us, that is, what we pursue is something external. In this type of motivation, true well-being is not found in completing the path, but in obtaining the reward, which can be recognition by others or other material things, such as money. In other words, the motivating factor is to get something from outside, not to develop personally.1.2. Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation is the energy that drives us to achieve something when the motivating factor is within us, that is, what we pursue is something internal. In this case, more than the outcome, what generates greater emotional well-being is to see that we have completed the path. In this case, we do not want anyone to recognize our work or get money, but the motivating factor is to feel fulfilled and comfortable with ourselves.2. According to the outcome of the activity

Depending on whether our actions are intended to bring us closer to something or away from it, motivation can be classified as positive or negative. Now we will understand it better.2.1. Positive motivation

Positive motivation is that energy that leads us to follow a path with the aim of achieving a positive reward, regardless of whether the motivating factor is extrinsic or intrinsic. That is, our actions are aimed at bringing us closer to a specific event. When we study to get a good grade in an exam and get into the career we want, we have a positive motivation.2.2. Negative motivation

Negative motivation is that energy we feel to do something but not because we hope to obtain a benefit, but to avoid an unpleasant outcome. That is, our actions are aimed at moving away from a specific event, usually in order to avoid negative consequences, whether they are punishments or humiliations (in this case, the motivating factor would be external) or feelings of personal frustration (in this case, the motivating factor would be internal).

When we study to get a good grade in an exam but not to enter the career we want, but to prevent our mother from punishing us without going out on the weekend, we have a negative motivation.3. According to the relationship with others

Depending on whether what we do is meant to compare us to others or not, motivation can be ego-centered or task-focused. Do not confuse with the extrinsic or the intrinsic, because here we do not ask ourselves if the motivating factor is external or external, but if what pushes us is really what we want or the pressure of others.3.1. Ego-centered motivation

Ego-centered motivation is that energy that drives us to do something because we compare ourselves to others, feel pressured, and need to overcome them or at least match them. The factor can be both extrinsic and intrinsic, but the important thing about this type of motivation is that we are not acting freely for our well-being, but because we feel negative emotions when we see someone excel at something.3.2. Task-focused motivation

Task-centered motivation is that energy that drives us to do something not because we compare ourselves to others and feel compelled to do so, but because we really look inside and see what we really want and need. In this case, motivation, whether extrinsic or intrinsic, does not depend on what others do, but on our real goals and dreams.4. According to the origin of the need

Depending on what need of Maslow’s pyramid we want to cover, the motivation can be primary or social. Let’s look at them.4.1. Primary motivation

Primary motivation is that energy that drives us to meet the needs of the base of the pyramid, that is, all those physiological. It does not depend so much on our emotions or future desires, because it is simply an instinctive reaction that leads us to eat, drink, sleep and reproduce. When we get up from the couch to drink water, we have a primary motivation.4.2. Secondary motivation

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