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The Complete Guide to Motivation | Scott H Young

Reinforcement learning

Thorndike’s Law of Effect led B.F. Skinner to the study of instrumental conditioning, where behaviour could be manipulated by applying rewards and punishments.

To describe this paradigm, some terminology is useful since they are often confused in popular discussions:

  • Positive reinforcement. Rewarding a behaviour.
  • Positive punishment. Something bad decreases a behaviour, such as shocking an animal that gives an incorrect response.
  • Negative reinforcement. Removing something bad to increase behaviour.
  • Negative punishment. Removing something good to decrease behaviour.

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They tend to eat in a healthily way, exercise more, sleep better, drink less alcohol, smoke fewer cigarettes, achieve higher grades at university, have more peaceful relationships, and are more financially secure.

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Confidence
Motivation and expectation of success create a feedback loop:
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If your projects tend to fail, your expectations are low, and motivation fades. If your projects tend to succeed, your expectations go up, and motivation stays strong.