Psychological Self-Help

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On the other hand, when rewards, such as praise, are based on
performance standards that imply one is doing well and performing
competently, then the intrinsic interest increases. (People like to be
told they are doing well.) Indeed, in real life studies, Flora and Flora
(1999) have reported that even paying or otherwise rewarding
children for reading books did not have a negative effect on their
reading or their intrinsic interest in reading in college. 
In certain ways, both the Behaviorists (who lecture to us about
the use of non-technical terms, such as rewards) and the Cognitive
Evaluation theorists (who contend that giving extrinsic rewards to
students kills their love of learning) seem to be right part of the time.
Rewards sometimes reduce our interest in an activity and sometimes
they stimulate our interest. You need to know when rewards help and
when they harm. Some guidelines for deciding when and how to best
use rewards are given above, but these decisions are often rather
difficult. Let's see if we can understand the effects of rewards better. 
Why and how external rewards sometimes reduce intrinsic
Experiencing intrinsic satisfaction is something that rather
automatically occurs inside us, it doesn't depend on conscious
intention, anyone else doing anything, or even on the existence of a
tangible reward. It is a feeling, not necessarily an action; it may not be
detectable by others. We probably feel vaguely responsible for liking to
read or paint or garden... but we may not be able to explain it. Ask
someone why he/she likes to read history or work on cars, and they
will say, "Oh, I just like to do it" or "I just find it interesting." It is a
free, naturally occurring, and dependable pay off. Getting it arranged
in the first place may be difficult. 
On the other hand, extrinsic pay offs are pretty obvious--we get a
pay check, grades, compliments, etc. Usually, there isn't anything
subtle or vague about the connection between our behavior and the
reinforcement; we know what the behavior leads to what
consequences. It is quite clear that only a few rewards are arranged
by us for us, i.e. for self-control, but most rewards come from others,
including our economic and social systems. Indeed, many of us are
well aware of life-long experiences with people--parents, caretakers,
teachers, bosses, friends, spouses--trying to use extrinsic motivators
to get us to do a million things that we don't really want to do. They
try to motivate us with rewards, including money, criticism, grades
and evaluations, promises or bribes, sweet talk and praise, pleas,
threats of rejection or resentment, etc.--all are extrinsic motivators,
several involve the use of power. Partly as a result of these
experiences, most of us, since about age 3, harbor some resistance to
external control. We would like to feel free and competent and "in
control" or "I'm doing it my way." Of course, getting a reward which
signifies that we are doing something valuable and/or doing it
exceptionally well is certainly different from getting the same reward
for "doing what I asked you to do" or for "living up to my standards."
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