What drives our intrinsic work motivation

Another person cannot motivate you intrinsically. Only you can. Everyone perceives the world around him and the situation he is in through the lens of his own needs and desires. And everyone is driven from within to fulfill these needs. This happens automatically. For countless generations, our biochemistry has adapted to increase our chances of survival and to create certainty with regards to our existence.

In order to cope, we all develop a personal coping strategy that is designed to achieve a series of goals that -when achieved- increases our chances of survival and thus our sense of certainty. It is the pursuit of these goals that drives our intrinsic work motivation and determines whether we engage or disengage into a situation.

Situations that fulfill our motivational drivers motivate us intrinsically

The 2 or 3 most important drivers represent the most important goals that we pursue and provide the biggest sense of certainty when achieved due to the release of dopamine in our brain. It is this chemical reaction that not only influences much of the emotions, happiness and fulfilment we experience in our work, but also influences our intrinsic motivation, our behaviour, our willingness to cooperate, and ultimately our performance. All triggered by the effect these motivational drivers have on our primitive survival mechanism; the approach and avoid response.

Situations that fulfil your motivational drivers and help you to achieve your personal goals trigger an approach response;

  • They release dopamine in your brain and increase the amount of happiness that you experience in your work
  • They increase your cognitive and problem-solving capacity as well as your ability to be creative
  • They stimulate you to engage and increase your willingness to take on (new) challenges
  • They stimulate you to perform and cooperate to the best of your abilities
  • They increase your productivity by 30%
  • They increase your loyalty

Situations that prevent you from achieving your personal goals trigger an avoid response and stimulate you to disengage

Situations that prevent you from fulfilling your personal goals trigger an avoid response: 

  • They reduce the amount of happiness that you experience in your work
  • They reduce your cognitive and your problem-solving capacity as well as your creativeness
  • They stimulate you to disengage and reduce your willingness to take on (new) challenges
  • They decrease your intrinsic motivation to perform and to cooperate to the best of your abilities
  • They decrease your productivity by 30%
  • They decrease your engagement and loyalty

Not all people share the same motivational drivers.

Not all people share the same motivational drivers. The combination of our genes, experiences and the situation we are in determines which coping strategy and thus which motivational drivers we develop.

The 2 or 3 motivational drivers that resonate strongest with us represent our most deeply held beliefs and attitudes about what is most desirable. They form the rules by which we experience and label something as “good” or “bad”, and are decisive whether or not we chose to engage. They even determine how we come to this decision. Ultimately, they form the essence of our being (Rue, 2001).

By assessing our values we can retrieve our motivational drivers

The 2 or 3 motivational drivers that live strongest within us not only determine how we perceive the world and the situation around us. They also create our most deeply embedded beliefs about what feels “good” and “bad” to us. And create our own set of rules based on which we decide to do or not do something. Therefore, by assessing our values -and what we value most- we can retrieve which fundamental goals we pursue, and your strongest motivational drivers.

The Online Drive Scan is an intuitive online scan that helps you to retrieve your motivational drivers by assessing what you value most at work.

The 30 values that are presented find their origin in the value models of Maslow, Barrett, Rokeach, Schwarz, Reiss, Fransen, Van der Vorst and Vyncke, and together form a complete and valid representation of the entire scope of values that are applicable in the domain ‘work’.

Calibrated images, gamification and time constraints reduce socially desirable responses, and potential bias

Neuroscientific research has shown that we humans are very bad at predicting our own behaviour because over 90% of our behaviour is driven by emotions that come from the innermost part of our brain which we call the limbic system. This is a part of our brain that is visually oriented and “thinks” in images. The system has no capacity for language.

To ensure participants react intuitively to the values presented in the scan and to address their limbic system, we therefore use calibrated images, time pressure and gamification techniques. Techniques that prevent an activation of the Neo Cortex and minimize the chance of providing socially desirable answers. And thus, a possible bias of the scan results.

Each value card contains 4 calibrated images that are carefully selected out of a database with over 5,000 reference images.


Both the value cards and the scan have been extensively validated based on international empirical research among over 4,500 people, and have a proven reliability of more than 95%.

Knowing and understanding your personal drivers is key to managing your intrinsic work motivation

A good knowledge and understanding of your personal drivers is key to managing the happiness and success you experience in your work because it functions as a concrete checklist to analyse and evaluate:

  • Which motives are (and are not) being fulfilled in the current (or a future) situation and which personal goals you can (and cannot) achieve now or in a possible future situation
  • How this influences your happiness and your intrinsic motivation at work
  • Why you do or do not feel fulfilment
  • Why you behave and perform as you do
  • What behaviours and performances are likely for you in a future situation

Insights that help you to change your current job or to find a new job and enable you to experience authentic and structural fulfilment.

The personal drivers that are identified find their origin in the Motivation Theory and the Needs Pyramid of Abraham Maslow. Maslow stated that we are all -subconsciously- driven by the desire to fulfil the same 6 basic and universal needs; Survival, Unity, Control (authority), Self-determination, Self-actualization and Collective actualization.

Insight into your Social Drivers is key to managing team work and work relations

In the end, everything we do, we do for ourselves. Therefore, your personal drivers and the emotional needs you seek to fulfil not only determine what makes you tick as a person, but also what drives you in your relationships at work and your collaboration with your colleagues. They decide what gives you a good or a bad feeling when you interact with someone; what attracts you and stimulates you to engage (approach response), or what pushes you away and makes you hit the brake (avoid response).

If the interaction fulfils our social drivers and underlying emotional needs, it will activate the reward system in our brain making us feel (physically) good. These situations will trigger an approach response and increase our intrinsic motivation to engage and to cooperate. However, if the social interaction or the collaboration we have with our colleagues prevents us from fulfilling our social goals, this will trigger an avoid response decreasing our willingness to engage and our intrinsic motivationto collaborate.

Analysing your social drivers not only helps to explain why a situation makes you feel good or bad in a working relationship, or does or does not motivate you from within to collaborate. It also enables you to learn what you must do to create a situation that fulfils and motivates you from within to collaborate as best as you possibly can.

Social Drivers

The social drivers that are being assessed in the scan find their origin in the SCARF-theory of Dr. David Rock. Using brain scan research, Dr. David Rock discovered that we have five overarching motivational drivers that – subconsciously – control our emotions and behaviour in a social context: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. As the social domain ‘Autonomy’ encompasses many elements, this domain is divided into two sub-domains: Independence and Personal Growth.

The 5 Overarching drivers according to Dr. David Rock:

  1. Status
  2. Certainty
  3. Autonomy (Independence and Personal growth)
  4. Relatedness
  5. Fairness



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