FACA Insight Magazine

January 2001

2001 Volume 4 Issue 3 Psychology

The self-determination continuumbecause it brings them popularity at school or because it pleases their parents. This type ofmotivation, which involves engaging in anactivity in order to achieve some separablegoal, such as receiving something positive oravoiding something negative, has been calledextrinsic motivation. Players who compete inorder to win trophies and medals representone instance of extrinsically motivatedindividuals.Despite the observation that elite performers’primary motivation for involvement in sportmay be either intrinsic or extrinsic, it appearsmost unlikely that they would be able tosustain high levels of motivation throughoutall the setbacks and “lean periods” that theyappear to experience if they did not have highlevels of intrinsic motivation for their sport.Further, anecdotal evidence suggests that eliteperformers do indeed sustain high levels ofintrinsic motivation throughout their careers.Intrinsic Motivation

The fact that most people show considerableeffort and commitment in their lives appears to be more normal than exceptional,suggesting some very positive and persistentfeatures of human nature. People are curious,selfmotivated, inspired, striving to learn,extend themselves, master new skills andapply their talents. It is also clear that thehuman spirit can be diminished or crushed,and that individuals sometimes reject growthand responsibility.Perhaps no single phenomenon reflects thepositive potential of human nature as much asintrinsic motivation, the inherent tendency toseek novelty and challenges, to extend andexercise one’s capacities, to explore, and to learn.

From the time of birth, healthy childrenare active, inquisitive, curious, and playful,even in the absence of specific rewards. The construct of intrinsic motivation describes thisnatural inclination towards assimilation,mastery, spontaneous interest, and exploration that is so essential to cognitive andsocial development, and that represents aprinciple source of enjoyment and vitalitythroughout life.Yet, despite the fact that humans aregenerously endowed with intrinsic motivationtendencies, the evidence is now clear that themaintenance and enhancement of thisinherent inclination requires supportiveconditions as it can be fairly readily disruptedby various non-supportive conditions. Ryanand Deci’s (2000) theory of intrinsicmotivation does not concern what causesintrinsic motivation, rather, it examines theconditions that elicit and sustain, versussubdue and diminish, this innate tendency.Intrinsic motivation (IM), therefore, refers toengaging in an activity purely for the pleasureand satisfaction derived from doing that activity.

Whenebehaviour voluntarily, in the absence ofmaterial rewards or external constraints.Players who go to practice because they find itinteresting and satisfying to learn more a^outtheir sport, or players who practice their sportfor the pleasure of constantly trying to surpassthemselves are considered intrinsicallymotivated toward their sport. Extrinsic factors,such as being rewarded with money forengaging in an interesting activity can leadplayers to have a lower level of intrinsic motivation compared to non-rewardedplayers. Positive performance feedbackincreases intrinsic motivation whereas negative performance feedback decreasesintrinsic motivation. IM stems from the innatepsychological needs of competence andselfdetermination.

Thus, activities that allowindividuals to experience feelings ofcompetence and self-determination will beengaged in because of IM. Three types of IMhave been identified as IM to know, IM toaccomplish things, and IM to experience stimulation. Individuals who favour one typeof intrinsic motivation over another may preferparticipating in sports activities that arecongruent with such an orientationIntrinsic Motivation to KnowIM to know relates to constructs such as exploration, curiosity, learning goals, IM tolearn, and the need to know and understand.Thus it can be defined as performing anactivity for the pleasure and the satisfactionthat one experiences while learning,exploring, or trying to understand something new. For instance, athletes are intrinsicallymotivated to know when they try to discovernew training techniques for the sheer pleasurethey experience while learning somethingnew. Players who play because they enjoyfinding out more about the game displayintrinsic motivation to know.Intrinsic Motivation TowardAccomplishmentsIM toward accomplishments can be defined asengaging in an activity for the pleasure andsatisfaction experienced when one attemptsto surpass oneself or accomplish or createsomething. The focus is on the process ofaccomplishing something and not the end result. This concept relates to constructs suchas effectance motivation, mastery motivation,and intrinsic challenge.

Trying to master certain difficult training techniques in order toexperience personal satisfaction represents anexample of intrinsic motivation to accomplishthings in the sport domain.Intrinsic Motivation to ExperienceStimulationIM to experience stimulation occurs whensomeone engages in an activity in order toexperience pleasant stimulating sensations(e.g. sensory pleasure, aesthetic experiences,as well as fun and excitement) derived fromone’s engagement in the activity. Research onthe dynamic and holistic sensation of flow onthe feelings of excitement in IM, on aestheticstimulating experiences, and peakexperiences is representative of this form ofIM. Players who participate in their sport inorder to live exciting experiences areintrinsically motivated to experiencestimulation.Extrinsic Motivation Contrary to intrinsic motivation, extrinsicmotivation (EM) pertains to a wide variety ofbehaviours that are engaged in as a means toan end and not for their own sake. Beingextrinsically motivated can lead to playersfeeling tense and pressured, particularly if thegoal they aspire to is outside their control.Social approval, for instance, depends onothers and is, therefore, to a large extent,outside of ones control. It was originallythought that EM referred to non-selfdeterminedbehaviour, behaviour that couldonly be prompted by external contingencies(e.g., rewards). More recently however, it hasbeen proposed that there are, in fact, fourdifferent types of extrinsic motivation that canbe ordered along a self-determination continuum.

From lower to higher levels ofself-determination they are: externalregulation, introjection, identification, and integration.External RegulationExternal regulation refers to behaviour that iscontrolled by external sources, such as material rewards or constraints imposed byothers. Players who participate in sport inorder to receive praise from their coach orbecause they feel urged to do so by theirparents are motivated by external regulation.In this case, the sport is performed not for fun,but to obtain rewards (e.g., praise) or to avoidnegative consequences (e.g., criticisms from parents).IntrojectionWith introjection, the formerly external sourceof motivation has been internalized such thatits actual presence is no longer needed toinitiate behaviour. Instead, these behavioursare reinforced through internal pressures suchas guilt or anxiety. It is as if players replace theexternal source of controf by an internal oneand start imposing pressure on themselves toensure that the behaviour will be emitted.Players who participate in sports because theyfeel pressure to be in good shape for aestheticreasons, feel embarrassed or ashamed whenthey are not in best form, or feel guilty andanxious if they miss training, representexamples of introjected regulation. Motivation is internal but not truly self-determined.