Extrinsic Core Drives

Extrinsic Core Drives are composed of the following motivators:

  • CD2 Development of accomplishment

  • CD4 Ownership and possession

  • CD6 Scarcity and impatience


  • CD1 Epic meaning and calling

  • CD8 Loss and avoidance

Yu-kai refers this as the "Left Brain" core drives. How the sake of simplicity, we will only refer these core drives as "Extrinsic" core drives.

The bottom three core drives, CD6, CD7, and CD8, are what we call Black Hat Core Drive (BH). However, CD4 and CD5 are sometimes WHCD depending if the motivation is more a positive motivator. If not, CD4 and CD5 would become a White Hat Core Drive (WH).

According to behaviorism theorist, Skinner (1974), he believed that behavior is a function of positive reinforcements and negative reinforcements. If the learner continues to NOT do well, punishes them with negative reinforcements.

The Octalysis framework has similar elements as Skinner's behavior theory however is different. According to Yu-kai Chou, Black Hat Core Drives are considered "negative motivators". Instead of the term "reinforcement", the term "motivators" is the term he uses instead. One reason is because we believe that learning is not a linear journey. A journey is a live learning experience which will differ between different different learners. We'll dive more into the behavior learning theory in another section.

Core Drive 2:
Development of Accomplishment

Development of accomplish is the core drive where making progress and besting challenges is important. This is an important motivator because it pushes both educator and learners towards the set learning objective and learning progress.

Here's an real life example of applying CD2 in a classroom:

Every week, an English teacher collects her student's book reading log. For every 100 page the class reads their individual books, the teacher will add a penny into her class penny jar. He the jar becomes full and can no longer hold any more pennies, the teach will treat her students to a pizza party.

The penny jar is a representation of a progress bar. As a class, they work together towards a goal. Of course, when the teacher designs this system, they would need to make sure the students are honest and make it fool proof by perhaps adding other core drives from the Octalysis Framework to support this progress experience. And hopefully the teacher wouldn't use pennies to buy the class pizza because that would not be a positive experience for the pizza parlor!

CD2 can also be applied in a fictional scenario. If buying pizza for the entire class is a financial burden, the teacher may create something fictional but of worth to the students. Like a free late homework pass will be given to the students. Or reward the class with a game everyone would enjoy playing. This will require assistance from other core drives to help keep students motivated.


CD2 is a extrinsic and White Hat core drive.

Example game techniques:

Status point, badges, earned lunch, leaderboard, progress bar, quest list, high five, crowning, spotlight effect, anticipation parade, aura effect, step-by-step tutorial, boss fight.

To learn more about CD2 from the creator of Octalysis Framework, click here.

Core Drive 4:
Ownership and Possession

Ownership and possession is the core drive that motivates people when they own something. The things people own can be both tangible and non-tangible. This is something students can spend a great deal of time on to collect, customize, and build. Because they have a sense of ownership, depending which other CDs it is tied to, they would want to value it by protecting it and even show it off at times.

A few tangible things students may possess in school may be:

  • Backpack

  • Pencil box

  • Designated seating

  • Lunch / Lunch money

  • Computer

  • Locker

A few non-tangible items students may possess in school may be:

  • Grades

  • Project

  • Bathroom pass

  • Hangout spot with their friends

  • Virtual items like badges

  • Class currency points

Here's an example of applying CD4 in a classroom:

A generous local business donated $100k to a high school to provide computers for those who are in need and partnered up with a computer store to provide subsidized Chromebooks. At the beginning of school year, 1000 students are qualified to apply for a Chromebook grant. The applicant is granted a Chromebook tied to their Google account. Student is required to deposit a refundable $150. Extra funds would go to repairs and replacements. If the student lost or damages the Chromebook, the student would be required to pay the $150 back to the school before they return it at the end of the school year. The school created an system where if the student maintained at least a 3.40 GPA at the end of the school year, the school would waive the security deposit and allow the student to keep their Chromebook. 3.4GPA student may also return it to gift it to another student in need with their name labeled in gold with the deposit returned.

This example utilizes the generous donation to allow student an opportunity to own a Chromebook while motivating them to achieve academically. They would have incentive to accomplish (CD2 development of accomplishment) to own their own Chromebook and take good care of it (CD4). In the mean time, they are also motivated to not lose their deposit (CD8 loss and avoidance). This example is an extrinsic CD4 ownership design tied with CD2 and CD8. If there are more than 1000 student in need of a Chromebook, then CD6 scarcity is also a motivating factor. Ultimately, this example is strong on CD4 ownership and possession because the goal is to first own the device and secondly CD8 to prevent loss of the deposit. When the 3.4GPA student decides to gift it to another student in need to help them, that would turn this design into a CD1 epic meaning experience.


CD4 is extrinsic and sometimes White Hat and Black hat core drive.

Example game techniques:

Exchangeable points, virtual goods, alfred effect, collection set, avatar, protection, virtual currency, inventory bag, attribute web chart, recruiter burden

To learn more about CD4 from the creator of Octalysis Framework, click here.

Core Drive 6:
Loss and Avoidance

Scarcity and impatience is the core drive of wanting something because 1) you don't have it, 2) it's hard to acquire, and 3) you can't have it. It's the motivations have thinking about the things you can't have but still desire to have. That thing motivates you to think about it all day long and if there is a chance at getting that thing, you'll work harder trying to get it because now it's become a possibility of acquiring.

Here's an example of applying CD6 in a classroom:

In a school wide event once every two weeks, students are able to take advantage of a special event that will help them collect an school item. Like Harry Potter collecting Voldemort's horcrux, once collecting all 6 or 7 items, a rare grand prize will be rewarded.

The thing about CD6 Scarcity and impatience is that it generally needs to be tied to other CDs for it to become more meaningful and more fun. A limited event with an limited prize that requires patience collecting is the CD6 component to this example. Choosing the grand prize and the 6 or 7 items is a CD3 empowerment of creative feed back motivation for whoever is setting up the event. The prize should be tied with a White Hat CD for it to have a positive experience to motivate the student. If tied to CD4 ownership and possession, they the reward would be something the student can own. If tied to CD2 development of accomplishment, it would be receiving something because they overcame a great challenge. Spotlighting the student in front of the whole school and giving them recognition for the accomplishment, would be tied to CD5 social influence and relatedness. Giving student the choice of the reward would be a CD3 empowerment of creative feedback.

It's considered a good design when multiple core drives are working together because that shows that the motivation is stronger.


CD6 is a Black Hat and an extrinsic core drive.

Example game techniques:

Appointment dynamics, magnetic cap, dangling, prize pacing, option pacing, last mile drive, countdown timer, torture break

To learn more about CD6 from the creator of Octalysis Framework, click here.

Sometimes CD1 & CD8 are Intrinsic

Core Drive 1:

Epic Meaning and Calling*

*Sometimes Extrinsic Hat

Epic meaning and calling is a pure white hat core drive but is split between extrinsic and intrinsic core drive. CD1 is an extrinsic core drive when it is tied to CD2, CD4, and CD6, the extrinsic hat core drives.

CD1 + CD2: Accomplishing a big or small task for the good for humanity

CD1 +CD4: Gaining something bigger than themselves like an Olympic title representing a nation.

CD1 + CD6: Becoming a US Supreme Court Justice. Only 9 spots which is scarce and this position makes big decisions that impacts over 300 million people

Core Drive 8:

Loss and Avoidance*

*Sometimes Extrinsic

Loss and avoidance is a pure black hat core drive but is split between extrinsic and intrinsic core drive. CD8 is an extrinsic core drive when it is tied to CD2, CD4, and CD6, the extrinsic hat core drives.

CD8 + CD2: Fear of failing

CD8 +CD4: Fear of losing something

CD8 + CD6: Fear of missing a rare opportunity