The role of extrinsic motivation in sports and physical activity
Posted 20th June 2018 by Jane Williams
Motivation is one of the most significant psychological concepts in many areas of life – from work and education to achieving personal goals. In sports and physical activity, motivation plays an especially important part due to the fact that, to millions of people worldwide, staying fit and active is not an obligation or a professional prerequisite, but rather a personal goal. Blockchain technology, together with elements of gamification, may actually help people achieve this goal.
Since most of us are not actually pressured by external circumstances to work out regularly, strong motivation becomes key to staying persistent and achieving results. In order to understand the underlying psychological factors pushing people to continuously pursue physical activity, we must first take a look at how motivation is theorised to function.
In academic circles, the study of motivation is most famously framed in a theory called Self-Determination Theory. Here’s how the Self-Determination Theory Institute defines it:
“People are centrally concerned with motivation — how to move themselves or others to act. Everywhere, parents, teachers, coaches, and managers struggle with how to motivate those that they mentor, and individuals struggle to find energy, mobilise effort and persist at the tasks of life and work. People are often moved by external factors such as reward systems, grades, evaluations, or the opinions they fear others might have of them.
Yet just as frequently, people are motivated from within, by interests, curiosity, care or abiding values. These intrinsic motivations are not necessarily externally rewarded or supported, but nonetheless, they can sustain passions, creativity, and sustained efforts. The interplay between the extrinsic forces acting on persons and the intrinsic motives and needs inherent in human nature is the territory of Self-Determination Theory (SDT).”
SDT is a great theoretical framework, providing useful and intuitive concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. As stated, external motivational factors often push people to act, or, even better, move. So the question is: would it be possible, with the help of blockchain technology and crypto tokens, to reward users for being physically active? And could this mechanism serve as a means to motivate people to increasingly seek fitness?
First of all, it must be considered that SDT also states that there’s an interplay between extrinsic and intrinsic forces, so it’s not really that simple. So what, then, is the relationship? To a layperson, these two types of motivation may sound like polar opposites, but that is not necessarily the case.
Internal motivation is often lauded as the single most important factor, necessary for various everyday achievements, because it does not require rewards or enticement to continue along. It is often believed that extrinsic motivation plays only a secondary role, however, this relationship is rather symbiotic than complementary.
According to the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, in the case of professional athletes, extrinsic rewards may actually strengthen intrinsic motivation. However, it is also important for extrinsic rewards to not become more important than inner motivation and a goal orientated outlook, otherwise there is a risk of losing the feeling of actually being in control of your behaviour.
Extrinsic rewards may also provide the initial push needed to take up a new activity, i.e., at first it may be hard to force oneself to visit the gym regularly, but the image of having a fit body and receiving compliments could potentially make it easier.
This is exactly where we see the role of Lympo and the LYM token. In our vision, users will receive rewards in the form of LYM tokens for finishing various fitness related challenges and completing personal goals. The tokens will have real, tangible value and the user will be able to spend them for different sports and wellness related goods and services.
In this way, the LYM token will act as an extrinsic reward – boosting one’s inner motivation and making it easier to begin exercising. After all, one last extra push is often the only thing keeping us from changing our lives for the better.
Ada Jonušė is CEO and Co-founder of Lympo. Ada is solving now is how to connect healthy lifestyle with the powerful blockchain technology.
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