Read with Me PD: Drive by Daniel H. Pink

Synopsis: “Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, says Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others). In this provocative and persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of life. He examines the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose-and offers smart and surprising techniques for putting these into action in a unique book that will change how we think and transform how we live.”

The big focus of Drive is that all people are born curious, intrinsically motivated, and in desire of autonomy. It is the focus on extrinsic rewards that turns us into mice in a maze just seeking out that cube of cheese.

Below are my biggest takeaways as a pediatric SLP from Drive by Daniel H. Pink. If you see something interesting, please check this book out for much more information and specific research studies from which this information is derived.

Extrinsic Motivation: “if, then” reward systems

When an extrinsic reward is offered before a task has even begun, the task is immediately perceived as undesirable. Perceiving a task as undesirable before even attempting it takes away the autonomy of possibly finding joy, interest, or challenge in the task. If you are primed to view the task as undesirable, you are unlikely to meaningfully engage in the activity in the first place and you are less likely to pursue additional opportunities to engage in the task.

Lepper et. al (1973) conducted a study on preschool-age children, who demonstrated a personal preference for drawing. The children were divided into three groups. Group one was promised a reward after the study, group two was given a surprise reward after the study, and group three had no rewards mentioned. All children were asked to draw a picture and then given their reward or not depending on which group they were assigned. The children were then watched over several weeks to see how much they would continue to pursue opportunities to draw. The results of the study indicated that those children promised a reward showed a significant decrease in intrinsic motivation to pursue opportunities to draw. They actually chose to draw half as many times as they did prior to the study.

Several research studies demonstrated that offers of extrinsic reward narrowed the person’s focus, which negatively impacted their productivity, creativity, flexible thinking, and problem solving abilities. Offered a reward, the person simply rushes to reach the end result for the reward, which decreases their opportunity for long term learning and minimizes carryover of skills.

Intrinsic Motivation: “Now that” reward systems

“Now that” rewards are basically naturalistic consequences and specific positive feedback that follow completion of a task. “Now that we finished retelling the story, let’s pick out a new book.” “Now that you finished saying that word, I noticed you kept trying when it was difficult to place your tongue in the correct position to make the /r/ sound.”

In the Lepper et. al (1973) study referenced above, the children who were randomly given a reward after they finished drawing or who were given no reward showed no significant changes to their level of intrinsic motivation.

For “now that” rewards to be successful, they should arise naturally after the task has been completed. The consequence should be something that would naturally follow, like a break or a special interest, rather than a piece of candy or a small trinket. Specific feedback can also serve as a natural consequence. Feedback is most beneficial when it provides specific information about what the child did successfully. (For more information on providing specific feedback, check out this post!)

Have you read Drive by Daniel H. Pink? What were your takeaways?

Thanks for reading!

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