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The Intrinsic Motivation RAMP Cheat Sheet by

motivation     marczewski     intrinsic

Introd­uction - Defining Intrinsic Motivation

With that out of the way, what is intrinsic motiva­tion? Chambe­rs.c­ gives us the following meanings for intrinsic and motiva­tion;
Intrinsic – belonging to something or someone as an inherent and essential part of their nature.
Motivation – to cause or stimulate (a person) to act; to be the underlying cause of (an action)

So, intrinsic motivation is a drive that comes from within, not from external (extri­nsic) sources such as rewards.

There has been lots of research over the years, the most famous of which was a summation of over 100 studies done by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. They used this to create their Self Determ­ination Theory where they identified the following three things as intrinsic motiva­tors.

Intrinsic Motivation RAMP


Relate­dness is the desire to be connected to others. In gamifi­cation it is covered by things such as social status and connec­tions that come from commun­ities. This truly is the glue that will hold together and elevate a gamified system above just being another gimmick. When the badges have got boring, when the points are meanin­gless – if you have a community that enjoys their intera­ctions with each other, you will retain their engagement and loyalty.

The sense of belonging and being connected to other people is very underr­ated. When you feel that you are part of something and create relati­ons­hips, that is much stronger than any digital reward you may get from posting an article to twitter!

Within the enterprise this is found in internal social networks as well as the office. I mentioned social status as well. This may seem like an external force, and to a certain extend it is. However, status can be a very personal thing. Feeling that others value you your input or your experience is a very motiva­tional thing. You don’t need a leader­board to feel that, you need to have connec­tions with people and some way to get those people talking and sharing and giving each other feedback.


Autonomy can be seen as a few things, but the core concept is that of freedom. Most people don’t like to feel that they are being controlled or stifled. Without some level of freedom, you will struggle to cultivate innovation and creati­vity. Google recognised this when they implem­ented their 80/20 rule. Their employees were encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on their own projects. This led to some of their most important innova­tions, Gmail and Google News being two well known graduates of this way of thinking! You could also look at this in terms of meaningful choices. Do you have the freedom to choose how you will learn something for instance? Are you able to choose the path that best suits your needs or learning style or are you forced to do it one way or no way?

Giving users a level of autonomy will help them to feel that they have at least some control of what they are doing. In an enterprise situation (for example), it is the difference between microm­ana­gement and leaving your employees to get on with their job in the way they feel is best. It shows them that they are trusted and can not only give you happier people but may also surface some great innova­tion.


Mastery is process of becoming skilled at something, to mastering it. It is important to us that we feel our skill is increasing in direct proportion to the level of challenge. If this is perfectly balanced it is often referred to as Flow.

The path to mastery is important is a concept that is often seen in video games. Rather than being given a manual to read, you are taken through training levels that spoon feed you everything that you need to know in order to master the game. During this on-boa­rding phase, the challenge is increased as your level of skill increases. Once you are out of the training levels, this does not cease. The game still continues to get harder as you get better at it.

In an enterprise situation, it is important that if you do not continue to challenge employees, then they will begin to feel less motivated. In the same way, if you do not encourage them to improve or even change their skills over time this likely to happen.


Purpose can be seen as our need for there to be meaning to our actions. We want to feel that when we do something, there was a reason and that it may have some greater meaning. A very well known example of this can be seen in Wikipedia. Millions of articles, all given freely, for no other reason than to feel that they may add to better unders­tanding of the topics.

Many people talk about altruism when speaking of purpose, putting the welfare of others ahead of your own in some way. This could be giving to charity, answering peoples questions on a forum (Quora for example) or just opening the door for another person.

In enterprise you can consider this in a few ways. The first is giving people the ability to provide meaningful help to others via forums. This links in well with relate­dness when you look at internal social networks. Many people like the idea of helping their colleagues when they can. Another option is to give people the opport­unity to give to charities from within gamified systems, especially in point collecting style platforms. Rather than getting just a badge, give them the chance to donate to a charity of their choice when they hit certain thresh­olds.

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