Have you ever had to find ways to persuade a child to study for his exam or think of ways to motivate your employees to do better at their work? Environmentalists have been thinking of ways and means to encourage people to save the planet but not all are coming forward. The most common way to encourage someone to do something is to give an incentive. A reward of some kind usually gets the job done, or does it?
A study done by a Stanford psychologist, Mark Lepper got 2 groups of children to draw anything they wanted with crayons and paper. Before they started, one group was told that they would get a medal jut for drawing. The other group however, was not told that they would receive anything. After a few weeks, the researchers came back and gave the 2 groups the materials and asked them to draw again. The researchers noticed that the children in the group that was told they would receive a medal were less interested to participate as compared to the group that was not promised anything. According to Lepper, the reason why this happened was because the group that was promised something thought along the lines that whenever they were offered a reward, it meant that the
adults wanted them to do something that they did not enjoy. Since they were getting a special medal for drawing, to them it meant that they must not like to draw. Many other similar studies were carried out and the results were the same. If you reward a child for doing something, the child would think it is something they do not like to do and this will reduce their level of enjoyment and motivation. Something as childlike as drawing or playing with toys would turn from having fun into work instead.
So does this suggest that giving out rewards actually mean that people are doing things they do not enjoy? Another study was done on a group of people who were asked to clean up their local park. The participants were told that they were taking part in an experiment to see what was the best way to encourage people to clean up their parks. One group was paid very well for their time spent cleaning the park and the other group was given just a token amount. After the 2 groups had finished clearing up the park for the afternoon, they were asked to rate how much they enjoyed helping to clean up the park. One would think that the group that was paid better would enjoy themselves more as compared to the other group. However, the opposite happened. The group that was given a token sum of money actually showed that they had more fun and actually enjoyed helping to clean up their park. The other group on the other hand posted a 2 out of 10 rating on how much they enjoyed themselves. The similar mindset had occurred. If a person was to be paid more to do something, it would mean that it was for something that he did not like to do. However, if someone was given a token sum it meant that they must have enjoyed doing it and did it willingly.
Some studies have shown that giving big incentives were only a short term answer to improving work but in the long run, it would actually have detrimental effects on one’s performance. From the above examples, we have seen that by giving rewards or incentives does not entirely motivate a person to do better. So how would we motivate others without the use of rewards and incentives? When there are no expectations, there are no disappointments. If a staff or a child has done something good, give them a surprise reward. Something small would do, but that action of acknowledging their efforts will actually go a very long way. Staff also appreciates the fact that their superiors notice their hard work and a good “pat on the back” will also encourage and spur workers to improve on their jobs.
There are many other ways to motivate but the best one would be to fully understand the basis of giving is better than receiving. Once a person is able to grasp that, one can motivate himself without needing a reason or reward to do the task at hand.
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