Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 70 of 153 
Next page End Contents 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75  

more sex; I'll give you $5.00 every time we make love." While these
examples are rather silly, it isn't uncommon to hear someone say, "I'm
not going to work for minimum wage." The poor pay ("reward") can be
seen as demeaning. 
Overly glowing praise can sometimes imply that you have limited
ability, such as when people say to you, "It's great you did so well!"
and it is clear that they didn't expect you to do nearly so well. If the
basic message is that they think you have little ability, that is not
(2) As the research summarized above shows, rewards may
sometimes reduce the intrinsic satisfaction we get from an enjoyable
activity. There is a wonderful baseball story that may illustrate this
outcome, called the "over justification effect." An old man was
bothered by kids playing ball and yelling every day in an empty lot
next to his house. He knew he couldn't just chase them away. So, he
offered each one of them 25 cents (this was years ago) to play and
yell real loud. They always played there anyway and the addition of
money was great, so they did. He did the same thing the next day and
the day after that, urging them to make a lot of noise. The kids were
delighted. On the fourth day, however, the old man told them he was
sorry but he could only pay them 15 cents. They grumbled but did it
anyhow. The fifth day, he told them he could only pay 5 cents. The
kids left and never came back! Why did this happen? Remember
attribution theory? Perhaps the old man had changed the kids' thinking
from "I love to play ball here" to "I'm just playing here for the money
(an over justification--an over emphasis on the money)." In this way,
a little "reward" seemed to reduce the overall satisfaction the kids got
from playing. Of course, the kids may still love playing somewhere
else, just not for the old man. However, haven't you heard people say,
"I just work for the money" or "I just study for the grade?" They are
over justifying too and are depriving themselves of many satisfactions.
It's not surprising that people lose interest in things they have been
bribed to do (Kohn, 1993). 
On the other hand, if the old man had wanted to increase the
playing and noise level, he could have given them the money each day
and never reduced or stopped it. I don't know this for sure but their
love of the game would probably have increased with the addition of
monetary rewards for just showing up (without the demands for more
noise), especially among the kids who only marginally liked playing
ball. So, it was likely the manipulative taking away of the money and
the demands that caused the kids to stop playing, not the giving of
extrinsic rewards. 
Others believe there are other kinds of risks in using rewards.
Adlerian psychologists oppose rewards because they emphasize the
controlling or superior position of the rewarder and the dependent,
inferior position of the rewardee. As mentioned above, many people
resent reward systems; they feel they are being treated like a child or
in a mechanical, impersonal, manipulative manner. Conversely, people
Previous page Top Next page

« Back