Which is better: positive or negative motivation

Positive or negative motivation

In some cases, fear of failure is as effective as the anticipation of reward.

Which is better: positive or negative motivation

It doesn’t matter if you’re building your dream career, writing a novel, or going to work out; you need the incentive to get started and not quit. Lack of motivation can bury any undertaking.

The incentive for you can be both the satisfaction of the action itself and the anticipation of the result, as well as the fear of failure. Let’s figure out how these types of motivation differ.

What is positive motivation?

Positive motivation is a rewarding method based on expecting a reward or enjoying the activity itself. This is the same metaphorical “carrot”.


Whether it’s a chocolate bar in exchange for good grades or a career promotion for hard work, positive motivation is the catalyst that keeps you passionate. Both material goods and pleasant emotions can serve as a positive motivator.

To motivate yourself positively

1.            Consider the following trick.

2.            Break down your tasks into sub-tasks and complete them one by one.

3.            Reward yourself after completing each item.


Positive motivation satisfies us, creates a sense of accomplishment. This, at the same time, rewards us for the already completed work and inspires us to new deeds.

What is negative motivation?

Negative motivation is a punishment-based inducement method. It stems from a fear of failure. Figuratively speaking, this is a “whip”.


For example, students who are not very fond of studying may still attend classes for fear of exclusion. The office worker comes to work on time and does his job because otherwise, the boss will give him a thrashing.

Some people do not go to the gym because they find training enjoyable – they are afraid that otherwise, they will laugh at their thinness or excess weight. This is a negative motivation.


This type of motivation works best when faced with a “do it or die” choice. You can even do an unloved job because otherwise you will not earn money and have nothing to live on.


Negative motivation is also an effective method. Not only joy but also fear can make you move forward.

What type of motivation is best

Both positive and negative motivation are two sides of the same coin. When you expect to be rewarded for success, it is about positive motivation. If the fear of failure pushes you into action, this is a negative motivation in action.


Which one is better? It all depends on the individual properties of your personality and the specific features of the situation. Here are a couple of examples to illustrate both types of motivation:


Let’s say your incentive to go to the gym is your desire to show everyone your newfound powerful abs during your upcoming beach vacation. This means that you are driven by positive motivation. And your friend is a gym fanatic with bulging muscles.

He fears that he will become heavy if he does not exercise enough and lose his good looks. This means he is negatively motivated.

For some people, pursuing a luxurious life becomes an incentive to work hard eight hours a day (positive motivation). Others work hard because they are driven by fear of being left without bread (negative motivation).

Your boss may promise you a reward for a successful project, and that is positive reward-based motivation. And he can threaten that he will fire you if the project fails – here we are talking about negative motivation.

As you can see, both types of motivation can be equally effective. Moreover, in most cases, we do not have the opportunity to choose between positive and negative incentives – it does not depend on us but the situation. However, if you do have the luxury of choice, here’s how to make it.

How to choose the right motivation

While negative motivation can be powerful, people motivated by it are doomed to fail in the long run. Fear of failure is not a feeling that should be experienced all the time. If you have a goal that promises to be long and challenging to achieve, negative motivation can break you halfway.


However, she also often acts as an excellent incentive to take action. Such motivation is born from negative emotions, and it is dissatisfaction with something that pushes us to decide to change something in our life.


Simultaneously, a positive incentive focused on the pleasure of gain, rather than the pain of loss, inspires us to improve continually. Simultaneously, it does not drain us, like negative motivation – on the contrary, it gives us new strength.


Imagine yourself hanging from a branch. Fear of falling prompts you to hold on. The expectation of success makes you climb up. Both are important.


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