Many feel that Intrinsic Motivation (IM) is the driving force behind heuristic thinking, for instance the creative process. Many experiments have shown that autonomy is a necessary ingredient if this fragile mysterious third drive is to produce the best results. Uninhibited by rewards or punishment, IM thrives on freedom. Why?
Let us lay some groundwork. Intrinsic Motivation probably belongs to Life’s Information Digestion (ID) system1. Our ID system has some distinct energy patterns that are revealed by the mathematics of Data Stream Dynamics – notably the Pulse and the Triple Pulse.
Evolutionary forces have chosen to align with these energy patterns to maximize the integration of the information contained in data streams. For instance, we are programmed to sleep in order to maximize our ability to concentrate Attention. In turn, concentrating Attention enhances our problem solving skills, e.g. our creativity, which undoubtedly increases our chance of survival.
Aligning with these natural rhythms enables us to better adjust to external circumstances. Conversely misalignment produces a negative impact upon our cognition, e.g. sleep deprivation. Due to its intimate connection with our cognitive abilities, alignment with the energy patterns of our ID system is incredibly important.
With an understanding of the importance of alignment, it is time to address our final mystery. Why does Intrinsic Motivation thrive with autonomy and conversely falter with restrictions? Why does freedom enhance the creative process?
To tap into the biological pleasures that encourage the information integration process, individuals would probably learn to sense their personal information digestion rhythms. In similar fashion, most of us have the best understanding of when we are hungry and need to eat something or are full and must stop eating. Generally speaking, we have the best sense of our personal digestion rhythms, whether they are biological or information based.
Just as individuals probably have the best sense of their personal digestion rhythms, they also probably have the best sense of how to apply the information digestion rhythms to the problem-solving process. For instance, we imagine that effective problem solvers probably have an intuitive sense of when to focus on a project and when to take a break to refresh Attention. Could it be that the pleasure of problem-solving would lead these individuals to tap into the Triple Pulse information digestion cycle to maximize their chances of solution?
These individuals would also probably have the best idea what project to tackle, when to work on it, which method to employ, and who to work with. Due to the importance of the natural digestion rhythms that can best be sensed by the problem-solver, it seems that it would be counter-productive to interfere in any way with the problem solving process. In fact, it would probably be in everyone’s best interests to give problem-solvers as much autonomy as possible. In this way, they can tap into their natural information rhythms in order to come up with solutions. Could this be why Intrinsic Motivation must be primed with autonomy to maximize its potentials?
It even seems likely that outside interference with these natural digestion rhythms could disrupt the process leading to lower quality results. For instance, demanding performance at the wrong time for too long a duration with the wrong people could easily throw off or interrupt the individual’s internal information rhythms. This disruption would probably have a negative impact upon the resultant product. Could this be why interfering with the problem-solving process diminishes the result?
Even rewarding the individual for speed might rush the work thereby throwing off the natural rhythms. This disruption of the personal cycle could actually impede finding the solution. Could this be another reason why conditional If-Then rewards inhibit the performance of heuristic tasks? Is it possible that personal Autonomy is required to tap into the natural rhythms of information digestion? Could these natural rhythms be linked to the mathematical forms of Data Stream Dynamics – the Pulse and Triple Pulse?
Could it be that those who are primarily motivated by external rewards, such as money, lose the ability to sense and tap into their natural rhythms? Could this inability taint their capacity to truly experience all life has to offer?
As we’ve seen, biological pleasure could easily be associated with both employing the natural rhythms of Data Stream Dynamics and with problem-solving due to their evolutionary advantages. It seems that tapping into these natural rhythms could also maximize our problem-solving abilities. Could this linkage be the root of Intrinsic Motivation?
Could the double joy associated with the dual processes (alignment with natural info rhythms and problem solving) be the reason why this special state is so compelling? Is this why creative people want to experience Intrinsic Motivation over and over and over again? Could this be one reason why those who regularly experience this process have a deeper sense of well being than those who are motivated primarily by external rewards such as money?
Indeed after a host of experiments, psychologists concluded that the ability to express our Intrinsic Motivation provides one of our deeper joys of existence. To make sense of this widespread finding, psychologists proposed the so-called Self-determination theory1. This theory and our Information Digestion model are mutually supportive. Due to experimental evidence, both approaches were forced to draw the conclusion that humans have the ability to choose. Taking this assumption a step further, Self-determination theory holds that autonomy, i.e. the freedom to choose, is one of the foundations of the happiness of our species.
Our many articles have exhibited multiple patterns of correspondence between our Information Digestion model and myriad scientific facts, both behavioral and physiological. The current set of articles adds Intrinsic Motivation to the mix. . Our model provides a theoretical and mathematical framework under which the 3rd drive could have developed. Further the model provides explanatory power for the behavioral network associated with Intrinsic Motivation. These patterns of correspondence provide yet more experimental evidence for the ID model associated with Data Stream Dynamics. The addition of the Intrinsic Motivation behavioral network to the multi-disciplinary matrix of phenomena under ID umbrella provides even more credence to the nascent theory.