Punished by Rewards

Punished by Rewards

The Trouble With Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes

Book - 1999
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The basic strategy we use for raising children, teaching students, and managing workers can be summarized in six words: Do this and you'll get that. We dangle goodies (from candy bars to sales commissions) in front of people in much the same way we train the family pet. Drawing on a wealth of psychological research, Alfie Kohn points the way to a more successful strategy based on working with people instead of doing things to them. "Do rewards motivate people?" asks Kohn. "Yes. They motivate people to get rewards." Seasoned with humor and familiar examples, Punished By Rewards presents an argument unsettling to hear but impossible to dismiss.

Baker & Taylor
Criticizes the system of motivating through reward, offering arguments for motivating people by working with them instead of doing things to them

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., [1999]
ISBN: 9780618001811
Characteristics: xiv, 430 p. ; 23 cm


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Jun 27, 2018

I think that Alfie Kohn uses a lot of loaded language in his essay on rewards, and that biases all the research that he has collected toward his views. It's a good book, but best taken with a grain of salt.

Jun 13, 2013

You would have to be a dyed-in-the-wool behaviorist or at least some kind of sociological conservative not to be persuaded by Alfie Kohn's compelling, if unnecessarily overlong, case against using rewards of any kind as a motivator. What amazes me is how easy it is to fall into the reward trap when interacting with others. And the scenarios seem universal whether you're in a classroom, at home or at work. Rewards and punishments are like a jackhammer to a problem--it will probably get the job done quickly, but in the clumsiest, messiest way possible.

My recommendation for this book is to read the first 100 pages (all of Part 1, "The Case Against Rewards") and then skim the rest.

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