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How Incentives Can Be Productive (But Not In The Way You Might Think)

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I’ve written a whole lot in this blog and in my book about the dangers of contingent (if you do that, you will get this) and how they don’t work for promoting anything that requires higher-order thinking.

However, in a new article by Dan Ariely, he finds a way that it can work, though not in the way you might think.

A new study showed that employees who were told they could give reward money to a charity of their choice “claimed to be happier and more satisfied with their jobs.”

A second experiment found even greater improvement when employees were given a gift card and told they could spend it on themselves or on a co-worker. There was no improvement among employees who spent it on themselves, but “vast improvements for those who engaged in prosocial spending.”

How do you think this could play out in the classroom?

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. Interesting post. I’m not sure how to use this in the classroom right now but I will be thinking on it. I wish I got a gift card so I could give it to the night custodian who cleaned the gum off the bottom of my desks a couple weeks ago, though!

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