Tuesday, February 19, 2013


This entire segment is taken from my textbook for psychology.
It is about one aspect of Psychology called Behaviorism. Specifically Operant Conditioning.
I know it's long but it's quite interesting - and there is a question of what your opinion is on the matter. I want to know what you guys think. Is it good to always give rewards, even for things that are already inwardly gratifying? (Read the Whole thing first)

(pg 279) "In one study, nursery school children were given colored pens and paper and were asked to draw whatever they wanted (Lepper & Greene, 1978). For a young child, this is a pretty satisfying event: The pleasures of drawing and creative expression are rewarding all by themselves. Some children, though, received a “Good Player Award” for their efforts at artwork, whereas other children did not. As you may have guessed, the Good Players spent more time at the task than the other children. As you may not have guessed, when the experimenters stopped handing out the Good Player certificates to the first group, the amount of time the children spent drawing dropped significantly below that of the group that never received any external reinforcements.
Drawing pictures is fun. Drawing pictures for external rewards might, oddly enough, make drawing pictures seem like much less fun. 
This was a case of overjustification, or too much reinforcement. The children who received the extrinsic reinforcement of the certificate came to view their task as one that gets rewards. The children who didn’t receive the extrinsic reinforcement continued to perform the task for its own sake. When the extrinsic rewards were later removed, children in the first group found little reason to continue engaging in the task. Other researchers have found that when people are paid for tasks such as writing poetry, drawing, or finding solutions to economic and business problems, they tend to produce less creative solutions when monetary rewards are offered (Amabile, 1996). You’ll see more about extrinsic rewards in the next chapter on motivation and you can weigh in on these issues in the Where Do You Stand? box at the end of this chapter.

(pg 304) Learning for Rewards or for Its Own Sake? (where do you stand box)
The principles of operant conditioning and the merits of reinforcement have more than found their way into mainstream culture. The least psychology-savvy parent intuitively understands that rewarding a child’s good behavior should make that behavior more likely to occur in the future; the “law of effect” may mean nothing to this parent, but the principle and the outcome are readily appreciated nonetheless. And what parent wouldn’t want the best for her or his child? If reward shapes good behavior, then more reward must be the pathway to exemplary behavior, often in the form of good grades, high test scores, and overall clean living. So, bring on the rewards.
Maybe, maybe not. As you learned earlier in this chapter, the over-justification effect predicts that sometimes too much external reinforcement for performing an intrinsically rewarding task can undermine future performance. Rewarding a child for getting good grades or high test scores might backfire: The child may come to see the behavior as directed toward the attainment of rewards rather than for its own satisfying outcomes. In short, learning should be fun for its own sake, not because new toys, new clothes, or cash are riding on a set of straight A’s.
Many parents seem to think differently. You probably have friends whose parents shower them with gifts whenever a report card shows improvement; in fact, you may have experienced this yourself. Nobody objects to a little recognition now and then, and it’s nice to know that others appreciate your hard work. In fact, if you’d like to know the many, many others who’ll appreciate your hard work, pay a visit to www.rewardsforgrades.com. It’s a website that lists organizations that will give students external reinforcements for good grades, high test scores, perfect school attendance, and other behaviors that students are usually expected to produce just because they’re students. Krispy Kreme offers a free doughnut for each A, Blockbuster gives free kids’ movie rentals, Chick-fil-A rewards honor roll membership and perfect attendance with free kids’ meals, and Limited Too offers a $5 discount on merchandise if you present a report card “with passing grades” (which, in many school districts, might mean all D’s).
Before you get too excited by visions of a “grades for junk food” scam, you should know that there are often age limits on these offers. However, if you’re a precocious fourth grader reading this textbook, feel free to cash in on the goods. Or if you happen to be enrolled at Wichita State University, you already might be familiar with the Cash for Grades initiative (www.cashforgrades.com). The proposal is that an 8%-per-credit-hour increase to student fees would be used to then reward good student performance: $624 to a student with a 3.5 GPA at the end of a semester, $804 for straight A’s.
Where do you stand on this issue? Is this much ado about nothing or too much of a good thing? Some proponents of rewarding good academic performance argue that it mirrors the real world that, presumably, academic performance is preparing students to enter. After all, in most jobs, better performance is reinforced with better salaries, so why not model that in the school system? On the other hand, shouldn’t the search for knowledge be reward enough? Is the subtle shift away from wanting to learn for its own sake to wanting to learn for a doughnut harmful in the long run?"