"learned laziness." Also, our willingness to work hard, regardless of our
past experience, is, in part, a function of our needs and the nature of
the work, e.g. mental or physical, clean or dirty, cooperative or
competitive, social or isolated, all of which may reflect one's
reinforcement history (Eisenberger, Kuhlman & Cotterell, 1992). Most
important aspects of life are complex.
Another fascinating feature of this program of research is the
moral consequences of "effort training." Children required to do hard
math problems first, cheated less on a later anagram test than
students given easy math problems first. We need to know more about
the relationship between industriousness and honesty, caring, and
other morals. But there are reasons to doubt that the relationship is
simple because in some situations having a high need for achievement
increases our tendency to cheat.
Later, we will discuss the harm that can be done to a person's
performance, especially on interesting tasks, by extrinsic
reinforcement. Eisenberger's research contradicts this; he found that
extrinsically rewarding hard work improves performance. Moreover, he
says rewarding progressively improving performance (harder and
harder effort?) did not reduce intrinsic interest. To me it seems clear
that in order to maintain optimal motivation you have to consider both
your intrinsic and extrinsic pay offs (see intrinsic satisfaction section).
The motivation problem is complicated by the fact that only parts of
working or studying are interesting and exciting, other parts are hard
and difficult, still other parts are tedious or boring, and so on. You
have to cope with all parts of life, so it is important for our work to be
satisfying, but a history of hard, rewarding efforts involving long
delays of reinforcement may also be important in preparing us for the
unavoidably hard and uninteresting parts.
Abraham Maslow (1971) was critical of traditional psychology
because it based its theories on emotionally disturbed patients or on
laboratory animals. Like other philosophers, he believed in the basic
goodness of humans and in their tendency to move to higher levels of
functioning as their basic physical needs are met. Maslow described
the needs at each level, going from the most fundamental
physiological needs to the highest, most noble needs. Every person
has the same "hierarchy of needs:"
Physiological needs--air, water, food, sleep, elimination, sex,
Safety needs--escape fear and pain, physical security, order,
Belonging and love needs--to love and be loved, have friends,
be part of a family.
Self-esteem needs--to feel competent, independent, successful,
respected, and worthwhile.