Motivation has been suggested to be what directs and energizes ones behavior, that which impels action (Hatfield, 2002). Motivation is also known as genetically influenced, contrasting environmental influence- commonly associated with learning (Hatfield, 2002). When individuals are said to be intrinsically motivated they engage in activities purely for their own interest in that particular activity (Wigfield, Eccles & Rodriguez, 1998). Intrinsic motivation could be described using the notion of "flow" describing it as feelings of "being immersed and carried by an activity, as well as feeling in control of ones actions and the surrounding environment"" (Wigfield, Eccles & Rodriguez cited Csikszentmihalyi, 1998, p76). "Flow," it is suggested, may occur only when individuals feel the opportunity for a task to correspond with ones ability to master that challenge. Intrinsic motivation relies on the sense that a reward of an activity is not separate to the activity itself, one feels the activity itself is the reward (Glietman, Fridlund & Reisberg, 1999). The following essay seeks to define exactly what is meant by the term intrinsic motivation and to why such motivation is beneficial and ultimately desirable in regards to students within their context of learning. With reference to modern motivational theory the conflict between extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation will be visited in order to distinguish the key aspects as to why intrinsic motivation in individuals is ultimately the most effective and efficient way of learning.
There are numerous factors, which affect intrinsic motivation, and in order to understand this type of motivation we must understand its determinants. Wigfield, Eccles & Rodriguez (1998) highlight three key areas in the characterisation of intrinsic motivation in individuals. Firstly and arguably most importantly is the individual's ability and belief to predict performance in a specific task, or sones self-confidence in an activity.