Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions

Richard M. Ryan, Edward L. Deci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9250 Scopus citations


Intrinsic and extrinsic types of motivation have been widely studied, and the distinction between them has shed important light on both developmental and educational practices. In this review we revisit the classic definitions of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in light of contemporary research and theory. Intrinsic motivation remains an important construct, reflecting the natural human propensity to learn and assimilate. However, extrinsic motivation is argued to vary considerably in its relative autonomy and thus can either reflect external control or true self-regulation. The relations of both classes of motives to basic human needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-67
Number of pages14
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000


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