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Motivation as a Catalyst: Differences Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Updated: Apr 16

Motivation is a cognitive and unconscious catalyst force that moves a person to action. Derived from the Latin term movere, motivation becomes intrinsic or extrinsic in nature depending upon stimuli acting on the body and mind. These stimuli are apparent through mental processes, external forces, or spiritual influences.

Our previous two articles elaborated on perception, sensation, and reality. This article will examine differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In case you missed them, you can read them below:


Sensation and Perception: The Building Blocks of Reality Part 1

Sensation and Perception: the Building Blocks of Reality Part 2


Motivation As a Catalyst


Behavior modifications are situated on the will, sometimes absent from stimuli or present and existing therein, harbored in the parietal cortex. The will becomes apparent in morals and can be evaluated with emotion (i.e., love, hate, compassion, jealousy, etc.) and intellect (George et al, 2020, p. 206). These behavior modifications are heavily influenced by reinforcer catalysts known as intrinsic, extrinsic, positive, and negative reinforcers.


Differences Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation


Behavior modifications are shaped by the intrinsic and extrinsic mentioned subsequently, dependent upon a cognitive goal, subconscious goal, or an external force seen or unseen. Extrinsic reinforcement can be displayed by bruteness, naturalistic (instinctual) responses such as moving away from danger that is initiated through the sympathetic nervous system, or a reward system. For example, if a child is doing poorly in school or activity, a negative reinforcer can be used to reduce behavior or a positive reinforcer can be used such as candy or recreation time when the child studies or practices (George et al, 2020, p. 165). Intrinsic reinforcement is displayed by “increasing a behavior in the future that comes from an internal source” (George et al, 2020, p. 165). Both forces are mentioned in the Bible, driven by external forces, people, or through God Himself (New Living Translation, 2013, Genesis 3, 5, 25, 1 Samuel 7. 27, Esther 5, Job 7, 37, 38, Acts 2, James 3, etc.).


Motivation Displayed Through Values and Purpose


The cognitive goal that comprises the meaning of life is finding purpose. These cognitive goals will also become an external force, a catalyst for mission. “Intersecting Areas That Comprise Purpose” (George et al, 2020, p. 4) illustrates how purpose fuels the force of motivation in four intersecting areas of life. These four areas are passion, mission, vocation, and profession.


Passion ignites emotional motivation (an internal recognition of what a person loves to do) intrinsically. Mission, in retrospect, is an extrinsic force displaying what the world needs. Vocation (earning a living) ties mission and passion together to form a unique intrinsic-extrinsic unity. Finally, profession (pathway to income) is the last cognitive building block that creates another unique intrinsic-extrinsic bond that welds passion, mission, and vocation together. All these aspects derive from values and the over-arching theme of purpose. The Bible exemplifies purpose by displaying the four areas mentioned above within the context of motivation. When one has a regenerated mind, values are correlated to morals in divinely inspired ethics (New Living Translation, 2013, 1 Peter 2:9, Ecclesiastes 3:1, Jeremiah 32:19, Proverbs 19:21, Ephesians 2:10, etc.).


For more similar articles, please see the below publications:

  • Examining Ethical Approaches to Morality

  • The A-Z Alphabet Attributes of God

  • The A-Z Alphabet Attributes of God: Letter A

  • Alive in Christ

  • Mirrored Touch Synesthesia

  • How to Build a Spiritually Lasting Legacy

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  • The Price of Freedom

  • Knowing Freedom

  • The Fight to Preserve Freedom

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