Reward efforts than outcomes

Apr 6, 2012 11:06:00 PM / by Vu Long Tran

I read this article the other day in the Straits Times which I found it an interesting read on motivation and how kids and people in general are motivated, I'd thought I'll share some key points from the article:

  • Autonomy and meaningful goals - We are at our best when we choose to work towards meaningful goals. 
"People focused on rewards miss out on the inner resources of intrinsic motivation and volition. We are most engaged and do our most creative work when we feel that we are acting according to our own will on behalf of goals we find meaningful."


  • Rewards are often given for outcomes rather than valued behaviour. Rewarding individuals does work but what we have to be careful is that individuals can often look towards the final outcome and may undertake unethical approaches to achieve the desired outcome. It's better to reward for efforts than the outcomes of efforts.
"A reward that acknowledges a great effort is more effective than one that is promised upfront for getting an A. Appreciation is always a better motivator than control".
  • Encouraging a child to do his or her best is enough - As this is not only supportive but may also help reduce anxiety which often can compromise performance.
  • Self-determination theory - These points are based on what makes people happy,  and  what makes people happy according to the self-determination theory, is that all humans have three basic psychological needs and these are: 
  1. The need to belong or feel connected
  2. The need to feel competent, and
  3. The need for autonomy or self-determination. 
"When those needs are satisfied, we're motivated, productive and happy. When they are thwarted, our motivation, productivity and happiness plummet"  

"Human beings have an innate drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. When these needs are met, the actions of people - be they students or employees - will be rooted not by short-term and inconsistent extrinsic motivation, but by sustaining, ingrained and habitual intrinsic motivation."

The article I read was titled, "Should you reward your child for A grades?" and is written by Sandra Davie on the 1st April 2012. It featured Profession Richard Ryan a clinical psychologist and professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Education at the University of Rochester, New York, US.

You'll find the article here if you're interested in reading it, I'd say it's worth a read. Enjoy! www.nie.edu.sg/newsroom/media-coverage/2012/should-you-reward-your-child-a-grades

Vu Long Tran

Written by Vu Long Tran

Solutions Engineer APAC. ex-@Forrester consultant. Writing on #cloud #howto guides and #tech tinkering!