doing unless others are impressed or unless someone is paying us to
do the task.
(4) Rosen (1982) found that asking phobic subjects to reward
themselves disrupted their progress in using another method
(desensitization) to reduce fears. He suggested that compliance with
instructions is greater with simple instructions. He felt that adding self-
administered rewards complicated things too much. (Note, however,
that Rosen's subjects were told to self-reward; they did not plan their
own project and decide to do this on their own.)
(5) Both behavioral and cognitive-oriented researchers have
reported that extrinsic rewards, like money or an award, may under
several specific conditions harm the performance on interesting,
creative tasks. Kohn (1993) documents this harm done by rewards in
many instances. It is a serious concern. Here are a couple of examples
of studies: young children lost some interest in their favorite art work
if they were asked to "do good work for 2 weeks" to get a reward.
Similar children just left alone did not lose interest. Of course, rewards
are necessary with uninteresting tasks, like most service jobs and
factory work. However, paying persons for doing interesting, satisfying
tasks, such as tutoring young children, led to a poorer performance,
less satisfaction, and more irritability. Offering $20.00 to give blood
discourages some people from giving. John Condry called rewards "the
enemy of exploration."
In many of the experiments in this area, the behavior linked with
extrinsic rewards became somewhat (not radically) less likely to occur
after the rewards ("bribes") are withdrawn. Perhaps, as in the case of
the old man paying the boys playing ball, it is the withdrawal of former
rewards that is problematic. The most believable explanation for these
results, however, is that being paid off for doing something makes it
seem more like work than fun. If a person were reading/studying
without extrinsic reinforcement (not being paid or graded or looking
for a job), he/she might say, "I must really find science and history
intriguing; I read it so much." A task seems less enjoyable and less
interesting when it is something you "have to do" in order to get a
reward; you forget the good and satisfaction in doing the task.
Interestingly, rewards in the form of praise for doing good work (and
being able) seldom reduce interest and usually increase it.
Please note that almost all these "problems" with rewards occur
only when the reinforcement is controlled or manipulated by someone
else. Self-reinforcement (and even self-punishment) may be less
problematic. When a person feels in control and doing something
intrinsically satisfying, they feel positive, self-directed, and competent.
The implications are that living according to your values is important
(see chapter 3) and that one should find interest and satisfaction in
his/her work and studies. It is a tragedy that learning in school is
potentially fascinating but becomes dull and stressful, a place where
we are controlled, threatened with bad grades, and forced to do
meaningless assignments. Work, making something valuable for