Motivation Backfire!

“The more cognitive skill involved, we thought, the more likely that very high incentives would backfire. We also thought that higher rewards would more likely lead to higher performance when it came to noncognitive, mechanical tasks. For example, what if I were to pay you for every time you jump in the next twenty-four hours? Wouldn’t you jump a lot, and wouldn’t you jump more if the payment were higher? Would you reduce your jumping speed or stop while you still had the ability to keep going if the amount were very large? Unlikely. In cases where the tasks are very simple and mechanical, it’s hard to imagine that very high motivation would backfire.”

Ariely, Dan. “The Upside of Irrationality.”

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