Extrinsic Motivation on TED

Extrinsic Motivation on Ted

I was watching videos on TED again and found a very fitting video related to our classwork on extrinsic motivation. Follow the link above.
The speaker, Dan Pink, was explaining how businesses reward employees with extrinsic motivators such as cash bonuses, perks, or other benefits and he has proven that this method is not the most effective in the work place.
The example study in the video clip is "The Candle Problem":

The researcher gives subject a candle, matches, and a box of thumbtacks and instructs them to attach the candle to the wall so that the wax doesn't drip onto the table. Some try to tack or melt the candle to the wall before realizing that they need to tack the thumbtack box to the wall and place the candle inside. Researchers found that subjects who were the "control" or "norm" group finished faster than those offered incentives for finishing the fastest.

 They repeated the task giving them a pile of tacks, a box, a candle, and matches, same situation, but the group who had incentives finished faster than the control group. This worked because it was a very simple (mechanical) task so they could zoom right in, focus on the problem, and solve it.

The overall conclusion from the video was that for complicated tasks, rewards narrow focus and hold people back.  Increased autonomy, mastery, and purpose has been shown to improve performance.  Tasks that involve mechanical skills are completed quicker with incentives, but tasks that require cognitive skills are completed more poorly if rewards are involved.


If-then rewards destroy creativity.


Intrinsic drive improves performance.


if-then rewards are good for mechanical tasks.

While sometimes extrinsic motivation may be necessary and could be beneficial Reeve (2009) also mentions that expected reinforcement or rewards may decrease performance.  Extrinsic motivation can take out any intrinsic motivation someone has for completion of a task.  But for this to happen one must be expecting the reward.
Reeve (2009) also says that a problem in our society is that so many people expect rewards for doing things they do.  Is there  a way we can stop this problem?  For example, if a non-profit organization asks a big corporation for a donation of some kind a lot of times it is an if you give us this we'll do this for you (usually advertising).  Is this something we have to begin as parents with our own kids.  Instead of saying "wash your hands and you'll get a cookie for dessert" say "go wash your hands because it is important for your health...kill those germs!"(or something to that effect).   

What do you think?

If you go check out TED and find a video you like then I will reward you with a nice bonus!  (oh wait now you won't want to do it.) 

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