Psychology: The Terrifying Effects Of Rewards

  • #1
The once always regarded as the
most effective method of teaching,
was already proven to be in effective
by many psychologists.

These baffling results had proved
the famous behaviorist, B.F. Skinner, wrong GREATLY!

In one of the experiments conducted,
children were splitted into 2 groups.
They were asked to drink a cup of yogurt.
One group was pre-informed that
they would receive a movie ticket if they drinked it.
The other group was not given
any rewards at all.
In the end, only the group that was NOT given
any rewards continued drinking yogurt.

Main ReasonS for the the INEFFECTIVENESS of
rewards or punishments

1.Rewards discriminate.

When someone is offered rewards for doing sth (something),
the rewarder is also implying that the
person cannot handle that task.

2.Rewards ignore reason

When a girl is reluctant to sleep,
her parents would most likely to bribe her.
However, as you can clearly see,
her parents didn't bother to find out
why is their daughter refusing to sleep.
What I find very disturbing is the fact
that most parents, teachers, or managers
just blindly use rewards to bribe them
into doing what they want. This is one of the reason
for the growing number in aggressive teenagers.

3.Rewards tear apart relationships

Imagine yourself as one of the students in a nursery class.
Your teacher, Serena, walks into the classroom
and announces,"Let's play a game! Anyone who answers my question correctly will get one sticker!"
Then everyone began "snatching" for the stickers
& the teacher's praise.
How would you feel as a child?
Everyone around suddenly becomes
your potential obstacle to getting the merits.
What's worse is that if someone starts
bragging how much sticker they have.
If you are a student who got the fewest number,
you would feel no different from enduring a punishment!
This is also comparable to a competition training,
esp in sports, the only way to obtain the
"Best Sports Man" title is to beat the others
and they instantly morph into "hazardous aliens".


4.Rewards blast away any potential interest in the task

Whenever we say,
"Do this and you will get that!",
we are, in fact, telling someone in another way that
"that" is better than "this"!
So she or he would lose interest in doing "this".
I guess you might conclude that
she or he's interest in "that" would rise.
NO, she or he's interest in "that"
would still "stick" to the same before the rewarding.

5.Rewards control the person

When we reward someone,
we are blasting out louder
than the loudest on Earth speakers," I'm the BOSS!"
This unsymmetrical balance would cause
friendships to vaporize automatically.

6.Their intention to continue doing what we wanted CRUMBLES without rewards!

As I mentioned earlier in the experiment example,
the rewarded group of children
didn't continue consuming yogurt without rewards.
Furthermore, their interest "zonked" well below
the interest of the unrewarded children!

In other words, rewards = punishments = "controllings" = DESTRUCTIVE!
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
"Main ReasonS for the the INEFFECTIVENESS of
rewards or punishments" this your reasoning?

This experiment has to do with extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation as well as contingent rewards.

I am not a behaviorist but this experiment (from your information) does not prove B.F wrong.

The general rule of thumb seems to be that too much reward for a task declines any interest in the task i.e. too much reward threatens the awareness mechanism of survival. Due to this mechanism of the brain the task actually becomes difficult (impossible) since there is no mechanism by which the brain can complete this task.

One could also propose this abstraction in terms of the opponent process theory of motivation. There are many different contingencies involved besides the yogurt and the movie tickets (e.g. socially motivated contingencies...watching a movie with the whole class).
  • #3
Yeap, I mean, artificial extrinsic motivations are ineffective.
  • #4
When I tempt my dog with a treat he will become extrodinaraly excited. We as humans then have the control over our dog.
The same applies for adults, when a boss tempts you with a higher paycheck you start kissing ass. Personally I have more pride as a person to crave these rewards. Do I want to be the richest man alive? Or do I want to help the poor become right. It's a choice that entwines through our life daily.
  • #5
I'm a Skinner fan. My mother initiated me into the world of musical composition and performance against my will. The reward for practicing was always verbal kudos and accolades.

Though the praise was helpful, every lesson was approached with a spirit of resentment and resistance to the authority she exhibited. Also, my siblings and me competed for this her musical rewards (praise). According to the theory you proport, this should have created negative consequences, rather than an ingrained behavior system (one that sticks).

Yet despite the resentment plus the competition that occurred, which you lament as an anti-Skinner theorist, gradually created a music-loving musical performer.

Footnote: I do not in any way feel I owe my success to my rewarder. I take pride in my accomplishments.
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  • #6
mikelus: The dog will listen to you because
it's more dependent on you!
  • #7
Originally posted by physicskid
mikelus: The dog will listen to you because
it's more dependent on you!
If I don't have a treat my dog will hardly listen to me. It's been rewarded so many times with a treat it knows better to work for no treat. Is this right though should I have a relationship that's based on rewards and behavior. It's then cheep.
  • #8
This is interesting, I do really like many of your points...
  • #9
Originally posted by physicskid
mikelus: The dog will listen to you because
it's more dependent on you!

Your right the dog is more dependent on me. Why?
because I have the food. Just as us humans are dependabal on food. We will listen to what our boss says to get our money for survival. If the boss had a problem with you he would have the control to disable the reward for the task. just like if my dog did not do the task I asked I could not give the treat to him.
Do rewards serve purpose without meaning? If not worked for is it a reward or a gift?
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  • #10
Alright, it's definitely okay to
show your appreciation by giving
someone a reward. But don't make it
seem too controlling or manipulating.
That's all I want to say!

For example: It's better to
pay good employees extra salary
or praise them while showing geniune appreciation than to use
a highly controlling method like
the points rewarding sistem
where employees have to earn points
for every little good things
they have done.
(like greeting a customer)

Another God: Thx! That was really encouraging!
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  • #11
a rewarding system such as a point system or in school a grade system, turns what could be a genuine reward into a scale compared to others in the spectrum based on who has the most points.Hindering the value of the work you did to that system
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  • #12
How does this apply to somehting like 'winning' and 'losing' at something like a card game, where nothing is really at any stake at all? ('cept maybe an ego, or two)

It feels rewarding to win, I've felt that, it feels down to lose, felt that too, why? (Won nothing/lost nothing)
  • #13
Originally posted by mikelus
a rewarding system such as a point system or in school a grade system, turns what could be a genuine reward into a scale compared to others in the spectrum based on who has the most points. Hindering the value of the work you did to the system.
  • #14
Sorry to bring up an old thred, but...

I don't know what study(ies) this is referring to, but I remember reading of the psychological phenomenon whereby you would replace the motive for performing an action, and once the the (new) desired result was taken away, the motive was gone.

An example I was given in a the book The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making, was the following:

Some bullies would beat up some kids for the fun of it. The kids got the idea to start giving the bullies some money when they were beat up. The bullies then began to see the purpose in beating up the kids as getting the money. If I remember correctly, the amount of money that the beat-up kids gave them gradually diminished to an insignificant amount. It seemed to the bullies that they were putting forth too much effort for such a small reward, so to diminish their cognitive dissonance ("I'm rational. Why am I wasting my time for something that I don't really desire?"), they stopped beating the kids up. The bullies had forgotten all about the original purpose they had for beating up the kids.

I don't know if this is a true story or not, but it's surely interesting.
  • #15
For example, if I could help my relatives catch a criminal mastermind, I would be able to get $10000 :biggrin:

  • #16
I hadn't seen this thread before, but there are some flaws in the interpretation of the results of that first study.

First, you would need to demonstrate that eating yogurt is not itself a reward. Many children like yogurt and will enjoy eating it whether given another incentive or not.

Second, you need to demonstrate that getting a movie ticket is a reward. To a kid whose parents pay for them to see movies, there may be nothing extraordinary about the receipt of a movie ticket. If they don't like yogurt much, and don't consider a movie ticket much of a reward, then they may weigh the cost-benefit ratio and determine it's not worth eating the yogurt. Was the second group who did not know about the reward in advance under the impression they would get something if they finished the yogurt? Whether it was explicitly stated or not, do we know if they expected a reward nonetheless? In this case, anticipation of an unknown reward may have been a stronger stimulus because they may be remembering other rewards they've gotten in the past for tasks they didn't want to do, and hoping to get one of those again.

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