in power sometimes oppose giving rewards, e.g. to disadvantaged
students for studying because "that is what students should be doing
anyhow." (No one ever says, "Don't pay leaders or professors... that is
what they should be doing anyhow.") In fact, 150 years ago New York
City schools established a reward system (like today's "token
economies") paying students for doing well. A few years later the
experiment, which had been successful, was terminated because it
"encouraged a mercenary spirit." All this opposition to rewards makes
it hard to establish effective systems. By recognizing and balancing
both extrinsic and intrinsic reinforcement perhaps we can get our
motivational systems to work better.
For instance, suppose John (the case we discussed earlier) had
decided to stop procrastinating for one semester. If his grades
improved a lot, that would have reinforced studying. But grades are
extrinsic (like the old man's 25 cents), and as long as his grades are
good enough, he is okay. But, John has done nothing to increase his
intrinsic satisfaction, such as saying to himself "this is interesting stuff"
or "I'm proud of myself" or "I like learning useful information." If his
grades don't go up and stay up, he may give up and resort to playing
again. Thus, like the kids playing ball, John needs to be aware of and
work on getting more extrinsic and intrinsic reinforcement for
studying. It is a lesson for most of us. Many of us see our work as
boring and meaningless, even though we are producing a wonderful
product or service for someone. We have lost the intrinsic satisfaction
(pride) the craftsman had in his work.
(3) Some rewards are used as bribes. This means they are usually
offered after the other person has been resisting or procrastinating.
Thus, the reward may reinforce resisting again in the future rather
than doing the task without being reminded. Example: Suppose your
13-year-old has put off her chore of mowing the lawn for 3 or 4 days
but you want it done before company comes this evening. So, you say,
"Jane, besides getting the usual $20, you can spend the night at
Nancy's, if you mow the lawn before seven." Does that reinforce
mowing the lawn or procrastination? Clearly, procrastination... or
maybe both (but what else can you do, if you want the lawn mowed!).
When children are "offered" a reward for reading, they tend to
choose the easiest and shortest books, not the most interesting,
informative, or provocative. Please note that the children are
negotiating the smart "business-like" way, i.e. getting the most pay off
for the least amount of work! The parents might be well advised to
first discuss with their children how to wisely choose a book.
To the extent we do anything--work or play--for an external
payoff, even for praise and admiration, we may start to feel controlled
by the payoffs. For instance, focusing on what is called "ego
involvement ," such as "am I doing better than others?" or "are they
watching and thinking I'm doing a great job?", seems to reduce our
"task involvement" and intrinsic satisfaction in actually performing
the task. Thus, we might start to believe that the task isn't worth