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Daniel Pink on Incentives and the Two Types of Motivation



Rewards work for routine tasks that require no creativity. If we put incentives on creativity, the drive to create can disappear once the incentives or rewards are removed.





Motivation and creative work

Intrinsic motivation is necessary for creative work. We need broad thinking, so we can come up with innovative ideas and see new connections.

Extrinsic motivation narrows our t...

Elements of intrinsic motivation

The 3 elements required for intrinsic motivation:

  • Autonomy: it's about choice - when you believe you have a choice, you're more motivated.
  • Mastery: it's about wanting to get better at something that matters.
  • Purpose: it comes from believing you're working on something that's bigger than yourself.
Knowing our work helps others

When we know that our work will make a difference to someone else, it makes us work harder. 

Try to reach out to the people who directly benefit from your work. This could boost your motivation to work hard.

How Social Environments Influence Creativity
How Social Environments Influence Creativity

As we grow older, we take cues from our environment and become serious and rigid, conforming to the norms and rules imposed upon us.

Our social environment, especially our ...

How The Meaning of "Being Creative" Changed

In the 70s, creativity was thought of as a trait, something a few geniuses have, and the rest of us do not.

New studies show that ‘extrinsic’ motivators, factors outside ourselves, can influence our creativity. Competition, evaluation, level of strictness along with rewards and punishment play a huge factor in a person’s overall creative levels.

How To Kill Creativity

Knowledge that someone will check, evaluate and grade one’s work, surveillance, a promise of a reward, threat of a punishment, creative constraints, competition and motivating factors like power, money and fame can kill creativity.

Rewards generally provide the individual with a feeling of being controlled, but can also enhance creativity in some cases.

The first views on motivation
The first views on motivation
  • At first, psychologist William James thought that only the initial act was conscious, thereafter behaviour was a spontaneous cascade of habits. He suggested we struggle with motivation when ...
Mathematics of motivation

When Ivan Pavlov and his dogs led to the discovery of learned behaviour through repeated exposure, and Edward Thorndike discovered the Law of Effect that stated that rewarded behaviours tended to increase, many psychologists were impelled to separate psychology from armchair introspection and formulated their theories as mathematical formulas.

  • The Drive x Habit Theory. Clark Hull's formula was sEr = D x sHr, which states that excitatory tendency (E) is the result of the drive (D) combined with the habit (H). The drive is nonspecific, such as hunger or thirst. The habit, however, depends on the stimulus (s) and response (r). But the theory turned out to be wrong and even opposite in many cases. 
  • Expectation x Value Theory. Drawing on ideas in economics and game theory, Edward Tolman and Kurt Lewis formulated an alternative account by evaluating motivation based on expectations. Tolman expressed the ideas as the mathematical formula: Subjective Expected Utility = Probability1 * Utility1 + P2U2 + P3U3 + … where subjective expected utility of an action equalled the motivation to act. But, if you expect a reward, why act and not simply passively wait for the expected reward? 
Motivation as change

Donald Hebb realised that existing theories were too focused on reacting to the immediate environment. Thoughts, ideas and goals could be just as strong for triggering action as sights and sounds.

Together with John Atkinson, they noted that the study of motivation had undergone a "paradigm shift", where motivation couldn't be seen as how actions get started, but how the organism decides to change its behaviour from one thing to another.