Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is stronger and better than extrinsic motivation.

Daniel Pink is a former speech writer for Al Gore. His TED talk on The Puzzle of Motivation has had over 7.1 million views.

“If you want people to perform better, you reward them, right? Bonuses, commissions, their own reality show. Incentivize them. … But that’s not happening here. You’ve got an incentive designed to sharpen thinking and accelerate creativity, and it does just the opposite. It dulls thinking and blocks creativity.” (Dan Pink)

Here are conclusions he presents from studies done by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston:

  • “As long as the task involved mechanical skill, bonuses worked as they would be expected: the higher the pay, the better the performance.”
  • Once the task called for “even rudimentary cognitive skill,” a larger reward “led to poorer performance.”
  • “In eight of the nine tasks we examined across the three experiments, higher incentives led to worse performance.”
  • “We find that financial incentives … can result in a negative impact on overall performance.”

Similar results were found by Dr. Bernd Irlenbusch & London School of Economics, as published in When performance-related pay backfires and Performance-related pay doesn’t encourage performance.

Dan Pink

Daniel Pink– RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us
Daniel Pink concludes that the reason for these results is that motivation is driven by our desire for:
1. Autonomy (the desire to exercise control over one’s own life)
2. Mastery (the desire to become good at, or master, something that is important to us)
3. Purpose (the desire to be part of something important, something bigger than ourselves, the desire to contribute to society)

Read Daniel Pink’s article on why the traditional “carrot and stick” incentives don’t work.

About jayhack2012

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