A new study has recently come-out — primarily focused on health messages and consumer advertising — and has found that “loss framed messages” (if you do this, then something bad will happen to you) really don’t have the “persuasive advantage” that they are thought to have. In fact, positive-framed messages (if you do this, all this good stuff will happen to you) are more effective, particularly in changing people’s health behaviors.
Researchers suggest the reason is because people “don’t like to be bullied into changing…behavior.” This is similar to the reason why incentives don’t work to increasing behavior that requires higher-order thinking — people don’t want to feel like mice in a maze (I heard that in a podcast interview with Daniel Pink a few months ago).
It certain reflects my experience with classroom management. I’ve had much better success talking with students about how changing their behavior will help them achieve their goals (passing a class, graduating from high school, going to college, etc.) than with threatening negative consequences (though, admittedly, in a few circumstances, that might work and I’ve used it).
First, of course, you have to have a good relationship with that student to know what his/her goals are….
Have you had similar or different experiences?