Work Motivation

What motivated you to work? How does your work reward you? Did you know that people are more motivated by intrinsic rewards than extrinsic rewards?

I was reading about very interesting idea which suggests motives of our work ethics.
Mark Lepper, David Greene, and Richard Nisbett (1973) conducted research on this idea. They divided children into three groups:

Group 1 was the Expected group. The researchers showed the children the Good Drawing Certificate and asked if they wanted to draw in order to get the certificate.

Group 2 was the unexpected agroup. The researchers asked the children if they wanted to draw, but didn’t mention anything about a certificate. After the children spent time drawing, they received an unexpected drawing certificate.

Group 3 was the Control group. The researchers asked the children if they wanted to draw, but didn’t mention a certificate and didn’t give them one.

The real part of the experiment came two weeks later. During playtime the drawing tools were put out in the room. The children weren’t asked anything about drawing; the tools were Just put in the room and available. So what happened? Children in the Unexpected and Control groups spent the most time drawing. The children in Expected group, the ones who had received an expected reward, spent the least time drawing. Contingent rewards (rewards given based on specific behavior that is spelled out ahead of time) resulted in less of the desired behavior if the reward was not repeated. Later the researchers went on to do more studies like this, with adults as well as children, and found similar results.

This fine example proved to me that one should always aim for an intrinsic reward. If one is ever going to receive an extrinsic reward, it will feel more motivating and rewarding when it is given out of the blue.

This study has also shown how motivation increases amongst a group of people. People are social animals and like to interact, so whatever you are designing, if it allows people to connect with one another they are more likely to engage with it.

(Weinschenk, Susan M., 100 things every designer needs to know about people, New Rider, 2011, USA)

Image1: (Golden Man, crated by Unknown, available at, accessed 29.10.2012)
Image2: (Maya, Age 7, taken by Unknown, available at, accessed 29.10.2012)