Surprising science of how to motivate people

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Jan 2, 2012 21:19
I'll show you the power of incentives.

A professor in Princeton University did an experiment which is called "Candle Problem".
In Candle Problem, people are given a candle and tacks in a receptacle and a lighter.
Then, they have to light a candle not to get the wax dripped onto a table.
The solution is to put the candle on a receptacle and fix it on a wall with tacks.
But people often take 5 or 10 minutes to solve the problem, because in the receptacle, there are tacks, and they tend to consider it as a receptacle for tacks and don't use it for a receptacle for the wax.

He gathered students and divided them into 2groups.

He said to the first group like this:
"I want to time you and know the average time for typical people to take to solve this problem."

He also said to the other one like this:
"I'm gonna give you 10 dollars if you are in the top 25 percent of the fastest times, and you get 50 dollars if you are the fastest of everyone."

The result of the experiment is, against what most people might expect, that the average time of the second group is 3 minutes longer than the first one.

It wasn't an accident. It has replicated for 40 years.

It shows that extrinsic motivators, which most companies give to their workers, doesn't work better than intrinsic motivators.
It shows clearly that there is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does, and it's time to rethink about it.