Multiple types of motives don't multiply the motivation of West Point cadets

Interesting study analysing the relationship between internal vs instrumental (the author’s take on intrinsic vs extrinsic) motivation as revealed in entry questionnaires for West Point cadets and long-term success in army careers. As you might expect, those with intrinsic motivation significantly outperformed those with extrinsic motivation on every measure.

What is particularly interesting, however, is that extrinsic motivation crowded out the intrinsic in those with mixed motivations. Having both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is no better than having extrinsic motivation on its own, which is to say it is virtually useless. In other words, as we already know from hundreds of experiments and studies over shorter periods but herein demonstrated for periods of over a decade, extrinsic motivation kills intrinsic motivation. This is further proof that the use of rewards (like grades, performance-related pay, and service awards) in the hope that they will motivate people is an incredibly dumb idea because they actively demotivate. 

Address of the bookmark: http://m.pnas.org/content/111/30/10990.full

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology and teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems, of which I am the Chair.
I am married, with two grown-up children, and live in beautiful Vancouver.

Leave a Reply