A Chasm of Disconnect: Community, Motivation, and the Patient: Part Two

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Interesting. I’ve read evidence this relationship years ago. The unanswered question remains how to address this important problem. Any ideas?


In his book Punished by Rewards, Alfie Kohn systematically destroys the myth that awards (extrinsic motivation), whether financial in the sense of pay-for-performance, or gold stars for the good behavior of children, succeeds at achieving their intended effect. In fact, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that rewards fail miserably in efforts to induce lasting change.4 Kohn cites multiple studies that support this conclusion:

  • Undergraduate students who were asked to perform certain tasks without compensation performed the tasks significantly better than those who received compensation
  • The performance of college students who were paid for turning out school newspaper headlines stopped improving, while those who were not paid continued to get better
  • Fourth graders who were asked to perform a task they “liked” performed poorly at the same task when offered toys or candy as a reward for doing the task

Kohn cites many other studies. Rewards—extrinsic motivations—significantly affect not…

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