08 June 2009

Punished by rewards? Why bribes fail in the long run.

From the Hall Full Blog:
Social scientists have studied motivation in kids a lot. There are two types: researchers call self-motivation “intrinsic” drive—the desire to do something purely because of the pleasure we derive from the activity itself. On the other hand, we also do things for “extrinsic” reasons—not for the process or the activity, but for the outcome or reward. Kids often do their homework for the grade or the approval of their teacher, for example, rather than for the fun of learning something new.

Intrinsic motivation makes for greater happiness and success, particularly when it comes to academic life. Self-motivated kids achieve more, perceive themselves to be more competent, and are less anxious. Extrinsically motivated kids are more prone to depression. While intrinsic motivation is a particular form of joy, extrinsic motivation can lead to a particular form of unhappiness fueled by fear of failure or disappointment. Sadly, because girls tend to be more attuned to their external appearance and environment, research shows they tend to be more extrinsically motivated and thus are more likely to be depressed.
But she doesn't just leave us hanging...in her very next post, Christine offers us the ERN method for helping kids develop self-discipline, and get those less than enchanting chores done without a lot of drama.

Her conclusion:
Rewards work in the short-term because they provide us with a nice feel-good Dopamine hit. But unfortunately, rewards tend to have a negative effect on kids’ motivation over the long-term. The answer is to motivate kids to do those not-so-fun things that are necessary in life with the particular kind of encouragement described above. That way, their brains deliver those feel-good chemicals in response to their feelings of mastery and autonomy (intrinsic motivation) rather than in response to receiving a material reward (extrinsic motivation)

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