Learning engagement and the need for rewards - Deepstash





The Competence Trap (and Why it Keeps You From Trying New Things)

Learning engagement and the need for rewards

The better we get at some things, the more we want to do it. Conversely, the worse we fare in other domains, the less we want to work at it.

If we see our engagement as a way of getting rewards (money, respect, achievement, or just fun) for the time we invest, it can create a trap. The better you get at some things, the narrower your set of interests and hobbies may become.





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.

Language And The Way We Think

Language is a literal and linguistic tool that many believe is a fundamental basis of the way we think. Some have hypothesized (like the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis) that many languages do not ...

Languages Are Tied To Culture
  • Culture is a way of perspective and identity, and people speaking the same language immediately bond and form a connection.
  • If an English speaking person learns Spanish, the underlying culture that emphasises ‘passion’ or ‘enjoying the experience’ is a more important cultural value in the countries who are natively Spanish.
  • The culture of a certain place may include cuisine, history, music and notable personalities, but language becomes the salt without which the culture is tasteless.
Language: The Gateway To Culture

The local language is the preferred route to understand the culture due to 2 reasons:

  1. Most people don’t speak English very well, due to their learning it as a second or third language. These people do not represent the real sampling of the country's population, just being the better-educated cosmopolitans who speak a global language.
  2. Most translations are poor substitutes for the real cultural essence, and a person needs to learn the original language to fully understand the context and culture.
Doing Well In Your Career

It requires two important factors:

  • The ability to do your work well. This requires knowledge.
  • Meta-knowledge. Meta-knowledge is knowledge...
Getting Meta-Knowledge

You can get meta-knowledge by doing good research. This kind of research comes from the interactions with other people and rarely from school or books.

Talking to people who are ahead of you in your career and comparing them to people who aren’t is often a very successful strategy to isolate which skills and assets you need to develop.

Don't Ask People For Advice

When you ask for advice, you’ll often get vague, unhelpful answers.

Try instead observing what the top performers in your field are actually doing differently, to learn what really matters to move forward.