Intrinsic Core Drives

Intrinsic Core Drives are composed of the following motivators:

  • CD3 Empowerment of creative feedback

  • CD5 Social influence and relatedness

  • CD7 Unpredictability and curiosity


  • CD1 Epic meaning and calling

  • CD8 Loss and avoidance

Yu-kai refers this as the "Right Brain" core drives. How the sake of simplicity, we will only refer these core drives as "Intrinsic" 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 3:
Empowerment of Creative Feedback

Empowerment of creative feedback is known as the GOLDEN CORE DRIVE. This is the golden core drive because it calls on the White Hat and intrinsic hemisphere of the Octalysis framework.

This is the core drive where the constructivist learning theory is founded on. CD3 is where the learner is empowered to create their own creativity into their own space or project. Learners not only need ways to express their creativity, but they need to be able to see the results of their creative choice, receive feedback, and respond in turn again.

Empowerment of creative feedback is the CD that examples why everyone loves playing with Lego blocks. They get to continuously create with their imagination and make choices. They get to express their creativity. At the end when the creation is complete, they get to enjoy their masterpiece by looking at how amazing it looks (which also touches CD2 at the end of the feedback). In the constructivist learning theory, you'll also see how CD3 empowerment of creative feedback connects to the learning theory.

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

A technology teacher introduces a famous computer game called Minecraft For Education to his students. All the students get on the program and enters a 3D block building world. The teacher splits the class into groups and hands out a problem card for each of the groups. Each group has free-reign as to use the digital blocks to come up with a solution to the problem.

One group's problem card is to come up with a solution of building an imaginary sustainable living space for their group in the Minecraft world. So the group builds a house of blocks with sustainable material and builds a farm with recyclable water from the rain.

Using Minecraft as a CD3 example is more on the high tech example. CD3 can be as simple as giving student the choice to choose their own research project or how to spend their classroom money. It's the gratification of making a chose and enjoying the results of their decision. A repeating process will lead to enjoyment when the learner repeated makes positive associations with the result.


CD3 is a White Hat and extrinsic core drives.

Example game techniques:

Real-time control, instant feedback, boosters, blank fills, plant picker, poison picker

To learn more about CD3 from the creator of Octalysis Framework, click here.

Core Drive 5:
Social Influence and Relatedness


CD5 is an extrinsic and both white hat and black hat core drives.

Example game techniques:

Friend adding, social treasure, gifting, group quest, trout flag, brag button, sharing post, commenting, water cooler, conformity anchor, mentorship

To learn more about CD7 from the creator of Octalysis Framework, click here.

Social influence and relatedness is the core drive where people are motivated because of the influence other humans directly or indirectly. This core drive is both black hat and white hat depending on which other CD it is connected to in the experience. According to Yu-kai Chou, human intrinsically desire to connect and compare with one another. When utilized properly, it can serve as one of the strongest and long-lasting motivations for people to become connected and engaged. Social media, has taken a big influence to bring socializing online with one another. Social media itself may have both positive and negative influence on the student. In a Covid-19 world, all classes have been migrated on to digital classrooms with live video conferences. Another much of today's pandemic has brought students and parents to work from home, CD5 is found in both online and offline. Humans have the capability to influence others and be influenced by others.

A learning classroom is naturally a CD5 place because there are classmates and teachers. In the constructivist learning theory, you'll also see how CD5 social influence connects to the learning theory. Below are 3 examples of a white hat CD5 and black hat CD5.

Example of a good White hat CD5:

Instead of a cut-throat competition, the teacher would like his students to join a group quest. The group quest is a collaboration project and compete against another class period. This way, each student feels like they are part of a group of their own to accomplish the challenge together. In this competition, participation and involvement is key. There is no grade for not doing as well as the other class. What is at stake is that they need to present to both classes at the end of the team competition. One group from each class is selected and award for excellent work.

Example of poor Black hat CD5:

Top 10% of the students with the highest grades are guaranteed University admission. Bottom 10% will not get into any University and be only given the option of local college. During the school year, students form exclusive groups to help each other study and achieve together. The result is exclusion of students who do not accel and the bottom 10% feel hopeless so they give up completely. They build great friendship with their comrades but those who are not in their circle of friends, are out casted.

There are always a select few students who love to compete and accel beyond their other classmates. This has some drawbacks because those who accel may already have advantages over the other classmates. The spirit of competition is daunting for most of the students. A white hat CD5 experience would be to change competition from one another into a collaboration with one another. In order to do that, CD5 needs to be tied with a white hat core drive. When CD5 is tied with CD1 epic meaning and calling, they work together to accomplish their goals.

Example of good Black hat CD5:

Every year, students are paired up to compete in an annual science fair project. It's an once a year tradition with top 10 teams recognized and awarded for their achievement. They are qualified to enter into a regional competition. Those unselected are also given an certificate for completion if they complete the basic requirements in satisfaction.

This is a good design because the event is a rare occasion that only happens once a year. Instead of individual, pairs will keep each other accountable. There is no first place winner, only 10 teams are recognized for excellence who will qualify into a regional competition. Everyone is required to participate as pairs but do not compete with one another.

Core Drive 7:
Unpredictability and Curiosity

Unpredictability and curiosity is the core drive that drives the quickest path to addiction. This is the CD that keeps students curious about what comes next and the desire to know the answer to the great mystery and question. CD7 is thing that gamblers get addicted to gambling. It's considered a black hat core drive because too much of it may lead to undesired time, resources, and energy wasted. It's an easy way to hook a student in, but it will only work for a shorter term because it is still considered a black hat core drive. It will be important to connect this CD to a white hat core drive to balance the learning experience. It's a more harmless black hat CD because it's an intrinsic CD. Most humans are all curious creatures. This is the most desirable black hat, making it a mighty double edged sword. If CD7 is paired with CD8 loss and avoidance, it will create a devastating feeling. Which is appropriate at certain times to a shocking effect if that is what is the desired reaction. In the cognitivist learning theory, you'll also see how CD7 unpredictability and curiosity connects to the learning theory.

Here's an example of applying CD7 in a classroom:

Every week, the math teacher will quiz her students to make sure that her students are keeping up with learning her math lessons. She realizes that quiz make the classroom's atmosphere very tense. She comes up with a solution to make quiz day a little bit more interesting and fun. She allows her students to choose where to sit when they enter the room. Each desk is numbered sequentially. She turns on her projector and pulls out a random number generator in a form of a spinning wheel. She'll generate random numbers and those who are selected are free from taking the quiz. However, if a student who is free decides to still take the weekly quiz, they are able to open up a treasure chest. Inside the treasure chest are random prizes that pertain to benefiting in class such as bathroom pass, homework late pass, an extra note card for open note tests, +1 extra credit point, or even a dud. Adding some CD7 ideas into the weekly quiz made the student overall look forward to studying harder for the quiz. Doing a CD7 combo with another CD7 combo can have a great outcome when the result is a positive and beneficial to the student.

Or instead of a mysterious treasure box is the reward, the teacher may also use a small ping pong ball and have the student toss the ball into random cups like beer pong. So this way, it would be more skill based rather than luck based but still keeping the unpredictable outcome.

This core drive can get very fun while being very affordable and quick.


CD7 is a Black Hat and an intrinsic core drive.

Example game techniques:

Easter egg, random rewards, evolved UI, sudden reward, oracle effect, glowing choice, mystery box,

To learn more about CD7 from the creator of Octalysis Framework, click here.

Sometimes CD1 & CD8 are Intrinsic

Core Drive 1:

Epic Meaning and Calling*

*Sometimes Intrinsic

Epic meaning and calling is a pure white hat core drive but is split between extrinsic and intrinsic core drive. CD1 is an intrinsic core drive when it is tied to CD3, CD5, and CD7, the intrinsic core drives.

CD1 + CD3: Choosing an organization to make the world a better place

CD1 +CD5: Teams to help improve the world

CD1 + CD7: Hope is having positive outlook of the unknown future

Core Drive 8:

Loss and Avoidance*

*Sometimes Intrinsic

Loss and avoidance is a pure black hat core drive but is split between extrinsic and intrinsic core drive. CD8 is an intrinsic core drive when it is tied to CD3, CD5, and CD7, the extrinsic hat core drives.

CD8 + CD3: Fear of making a wrong choice

CD8 +CD5: Fear of letting your parents down

CD8 + CD7: Fear of the unknown