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Looking for a way to motivate myself to work out regularly.  Happened upon the theory that extrinsic rewards actually demotivate over time, but intrinsic rewards are motivators.  Example given: the reward for students to learn how to use a library catalog, is that they find the books or info they want – this is an intrinsic reward, as it is a natural consequence to the action.  An extrinsic reward would be “learn how to use the library catalog, and I’ll take you out for ice cream.”  The next time you want them to learn something, they will be demotivated unless you offer ice cream.  Even with the ice cream, they might feel demotivated; they don’t want to learn, they just want the ice cream.

This gave me an idea.  If I want to encourage myself to work out three times per week, then I could reward myself extrinsically, e.g. every week that I do 3 full work-outs, I give myself a reward, like a movie night or something.  That’s an extrinsic reward.  But what if I desired the effects of working out regularly?  Attach a reward to some outcome of working out, e.g. when I can do ten chin-ups and run 2.5km in 15 minutes, then I can take the whole family out to the movies.  Then, the rewards for working out three times per week are intrinsic: I get the fitness I need in order to achieve the extrinsic reward.  In the library example, it would be like rewarding students for answering a list of questions by finding the answers in the library; learning to use the catalog is a necessary (and rewarding) step to answering those questions.

So, remote the reward by one step, to achieve intrinsic motivation.  That’s my hypothesis.

-Johnny

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