Choosing intrinsic goals is wiser

On this site you may have already read about intrinsic goals and extrinsic goals. Research within self- determination theory suggests that choosing intrinsic goals is a wiser choice than choosing extrinsic goals. New research supports this.

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Goals 

Intrinsic goals focus on outcomes that we value in themselves. Examples of intrinsic goals are: good and intimate relationships with people, personal growth, self-expression, mastery, and useful contributions to the community of which you are a part. 
Extrinsic goals are goals that focus on instrumental outcomes such as wealth, fame, prestige, power. 

Relationship between types of goals and well-being 

Research has shown that achieving intrinsic goals is generally associated with greater well-being than achieving extrinsic goals. 
This probably has to do with the following: Achieving intrinsic goals leads directly to the satisfaction of our basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Achieving extrinsic goals does not and can even undermine well-being. 

Meta-analysis Bradshaw et al. (2022) 

Emma Bradshaw et al. (2022) performed a meta-analysis to further explore the relationship between goal type and well-being. In their meta-analysis, they included 105 studies reporting 1,808 effects and with a total sample of N = 70,110. 
It emerged that intrinsic aspirations were positively related to well-being and negatively to ill-being. Extrinsic goals showed a negative relationship with well-being and a positive relationship with ill-being. 


In our society, extrinsic goals are often glorified. Rappers and famous athletes proudly display their Rolex watches and Bentleys. Many children receive the message that success in life is primarily a matter of wealth, prestige and influence. But it seems that this message is very misleading. 
Succeeding in life probably has much more to do with very different goals. The sooner we realize that, the better. 
This kind of research makes us think about what we teach our children, and how we talk to our students, employees and customers. If you really want to help them, teach them the importance of choosing intrinsic life goals.