The New York Times

Science Confirms It: People Are Not Pets

RESEARCH ON THE EFFICACY OF REWARDS TELLS US THAT WE CAN’T BRIBE OTHERS INTO DOING WHAT WE WANT.

The field of social psychology is sometimes accused of doing no more than ratifying common sense, so it’s worth paying attention when its findings are genuinely surprising. Case in point: the discovery that when we are rewarded for doing something, we tend to lose interest in whatever we had to do to get the reward.

This outcome has been confirmed scores of times with all sorts of rewards and tasks, and across cultures, ages and genders. Yet many teachers, parents and bosses persist in using versions of what has been called “sugarcoated control.”

Psychologists often distinguish between intrinsic motivation (wanting to do something for

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