Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes
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this technique usually undermines intrinsic motivation.72 A study that is billed as the first to explicitly compare the effects of paying subjects just for taking part in an experiment with paying them on the basis of how good a job they did at a task found that their interest was significantly lower in the performance-contingent situation.73 In short, PCRs are more destructive—or at best, no less destructive—than other rewards. These results make perfect sense since, as Richard Ryan puts it, by
view. The report described how, merely by pressing a bar, it had trained a college student to engage in breakfast-feeding behavior.* The instructor was not amused, and as I say, I barely passed the course. But that didn't stop me from immediately writing a parody of a psychology journal article for the school paper. I had the article's author claiming a 100 percent success rate in conditioning his rats to avoid pressing Lever B (which caused a three-hundred-pound anvil to drop suddenly from the
powerless and burned out as well? Each of these situations calls for a different response. But holding out a carrot—"Do better work and here's what you'll get"—is a pseudosolution; it fails to address the issues that are actually responsible for holding back the organization and the people who work there.92 More generally, incentive systems are frequently used as a substitute for giving workers what they need to do a good job. Treating workers well—which, as I will argue later, means providing