Do you struggle with learning something new? Some people can absorb further information and remember it later, while others find their mind wandering or a lousy memory distracting.
There is a solution: intrinsic motivation to learn. This article will explain what intrinsic motivation is, how it works in our brains, and how to increase your level of intrinsic motivation.
Understand and apply to your learning process, you’ll understand why some people are more motivated than others for everything from homework to learning a new language—and why this ultimately leads to success.
What Is Intrinsic Motivation?
Intrinsic motivation is the drive to learn that comes from inside of you. It’s a desire to understand, appreciate and even master the subject. Intrinsic motivation stems from something innate in your brain and not inherently related to rewards, pressure, or other external factors.
You intrinsically motivated—that’s just your brain wiring up and delivering on its promises!
Let’s illustrate what intrinsic motivation means with an analogy: Suppose we show you two light bulbs as shown above. On the left, there’s one that stays off no matter what you do, and on the right, there’s one that can be turned on just by flipping a switch.
Both light bulbs would be completely dark if you were to do nothing. But if you were to reverse the right button, it’s clear that your brain has created some intrinsic motivation within you to turn on the light.
To turn on the light, your brain must send signals through your nervous system—first to your hand to flip the switch and then to the light. It is a very complex process that requires the delicate coordination of neurons in your brain and throughout your body. But here’s the critical point: this switch was already in you!
This example illustrates how intrinsic motivation works in our brains. Our brains are equipped with the switch that can turn on intrinsic motivation, and we can use it to form new connections or change our thinking patterns if we so choose. Intrinsic motivation is not limited by learning difficulties like dyslexia or attention deficit disorder (ADD).