Extrinsic Motivations: when the Ends Trump the Means.

Why are we fulfilling our roles at this moment? Society answers that we are going to be rewarded with money, social status, security, and [input what you want here]. It claims that these things make you happier while performing your tasks. These things are supposed to act as your motivators. Well, you might want to think again.

  A series of psychological studies have shown that you are less intrinsically motivated and lose your interests (happiness) for the sake of the task. Children who are rewarded to draw are less likely to enjoy drawing outside of their class. They lose their interests in the task. This doesn’t just generalize and replicate only to young children. When a group of creative writers at Braindeis and at Boston University were asked to write poetry, they were given either extrinsic reasons or intrinsic reasons to write. The works of students given extrinsic reasons were less creatively and significantly less qualitative compared to the works of students given intrinsic motivations.

Where does this leave us? Yes, grades are important in schooling to assess students’ readiness in relation to one another’s. However, is it really a necessity? Emile Rousseau and John Dewey both agree that freedom of education is important for one’s education, but there needs to be some sorts of regulation and guiding from society. How much of guiding and regulation do they need? Does it mean as much as John Gatto’s Seven School Lessons that teach students how to conform to society in order to get their rewards? That is basically teaching them how to treasure extrinsic motivations and be depressed to study. I understand that extrinsic motivations are important for us to start working because we are somewhat a bunch of materialistic people. Thus, you should think about what it means to be truly happy and find your intrinsic motivations. Your happiness is not about the ends, but how much you enjoy the means. However, I Kant deny that there are many people (probably Machiavelli’s descendants) who perform deeds for the ends rather than the means.

6 responses to “Extrinsic Motivations: when the Ends Trump the Means.

Leave a Reply