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Neo-Behaviourism and Skinnerian Ideas of Reinforcement

Research has shown that monetary incentive does not always work in motivating workers and may in fact hinder performance. This seems to go against the Skinnerian idea of reinforcement in behaviour. What factors might prevent monetary reward from motivating workers to better performance?

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The connection between money incentives and worker motivation is controversial. Some studies seem to suggest it, others reject it. One problem with the thesis that money is a motivator is that it is not immediate. That is, since one is normally paid bi-weekly or monthly, the reward is often distant from the action that earned the reward. Hence, the vividness of the reward (and its association with pleasure) becomes weaker (McCoy and Mitchell, 2009). In other words, the reward needs to be both immediate and directly related to the work itself. McCoy and Mitchell argue that cash can be a motivator, but it must be given out immediately after a meritorious performance (in cash, gift card, etc).

The literature on financial rewards is mixed for another reason. In some cases, high cash rewards might signal that the work to be done is tedious or even dangerous. In addition, several studies have shown that students collecting donations from door to door worked harder when paid nothing compared to being paid a trivial ...

Solution Summary

The neo-behaviorism and Skinnerian ideas of reinforcement are examined.