Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Roland Bénabou, Jean Tirole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1260 Scopus citations


A central tenet of economics is that individuals respond to incentives. For psychologists and sociologists, in contrast, rewards and punishments are often counterproductive, because they undermine "intrinsic motivation". We reconcile these two views, showing how performance incentives offered by an informed principal (manager, teacher, parent) can adversely impact an agent's (worker, child) perception of the task, or of his own abilities. Incentives are then only weak reinforcers in the short run, and negative reinforces in the long run. We also study the effects of empowerment, help and excuses on motivation, as well as situations of ego bashing reflecting a battle for dominance within a relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-520
Number of pages32
JournalReview of Economic Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this