Friday, July 30, 2010

An Admittedly Narcissistic take on Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

I took a turn for the personal (coughegotisticcough) in this post and wrote about how intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation fits/has fit into my on life. 
I'm curious to hear what comes to mind when you think about what in your life is more intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. Additionally, are there are any "tasks" that you feel are motivationally ambiguous?

All this talk about Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation makes me contemplate the "productive" pleasures in my life where I find flow, as well as those odd tasks that seem to fluctuate somewhere between intrinsic and extrinsic depending on my mood and the items on my "should do" list.

Mesotrinsic motivation?
One of the first "fluctuating" examples that comes to my mind is high school trigonometry. Sure, my high-school-self would've ideally spent all my free time trolling on AIM (like a good little creep), but that was out of the question. After all, I had parents with eyes and limited access to the family computer, so I had to spend several hours after school at least looking like someone doing homework. And as far as homework went, trig was pretty swell. Doing the problems felt like playing with puzzles, and I truly think that that intrinsic motivation positively affected my work ethic across the board. I would always start my homework by doing trigonometry as a way to warm up my brain and ease me into the rest of my more extrinsically-motivated workload. 

Preserving the intrinsic
Nowadays, as I may have mentioned once or twice in class, I spend a lot of my time experimenting with tools and making goofy pictures on photoshop elements. This has always been an out-of-classroom pursuit for me, which I sometimes regret, but I also kind of like. If I had taken more graphic design classes I would have a more professional set of skills. If I had majored in graphic design I could've gotten a job doing what I already spend hours on every day. However, would I enjoy assignments as much as I enjoy my self-designed projects? Would I lose the "pleasure" of the task if it became my work? 

All I know is that I'm happy with the balance I have right now. But who knows? Maybe that will change some day. Right now I find security in the "pro-bono" aspect of what I do. By keeping this as a hobby instead of a job, I preserve and protect the intrinsically motivated value and pleasure of the task.  

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