"To nudge families to keep their children in school, researchers recently experimented with giving parents in the country’s poorest districts small grants of between $8 and $10 per child each month. Some of them were told they’d only get paid if their child attended school regularly, but the others were simply handed money, told nothing, and sent on their way.
Surprisingly, the researchers found that giving out money without any preconditions was more effective than asking families to do something in exchange for their bounty.”
Past psychology research shows that extrinsic motivators aren’t as fulfilling and sustaining as intrinsic motivators when it comes to learning. When someone has an internal drive, they usually delve much deeper into a topic because they are genuinely interested in learning more about it; and they usually pave their own way in exploring and finding things out for themselves.
By adding an extrinsic reward, it might actually interfere with their self-directed exploration. And later on if the extrinsic reward is taken away, there is an expectation that if I don’t get X reward (bribing?), why should I bother spending time on this?
I thought the article was fascinating, because I haven’t really thought about it in terms of charity with a payback obligation (e.g. Kiva).
I also wonder if this is correlated to socioeconomic status. Perhaps people in poverty have this strong drive to make something out of very little, because they have potential and dream of grasping any opportunity they are provided with, so when they get a small grant without payback obligation, they grasp it and make full use of it without feeling the pressure of paying back.
Whereas the middle class, who are pretty well-off, are often bombarded with extrinsic motivators/rewards to learn, and those rewards eventually become distractions. Do kids learn on Khan academy for the sake of learning, or to collect badges or points (extrinsic reward)?
The question I’m fascinated with is: How do you cultivate and maintain intrinsic motivation, even in the face of extrinsic rewards?
What do you think?