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Punished by Rewards: The Trouble With Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, As, Praise, and Other Bribes Hardcover – August 1, 2001
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From Library Journal
Kohn, the author of other iconoclastic books, among them You Know What They Say: The Truth About Popular Beliefs ( LJ 8/90), here shows how rewards of all sorts undermine our efforts to teach students, manage workers, and raise children. Although aimed at a general audience, the book is based on extensive research and documented with almost 100 pages of notes and references. The first six review the behaviorist tradition and lay out in a clear and convincing manner Kohn's central argument that "pop behaviorism" is dangerously prevalent in our society. Here Kohn discusses why rewards, including praise, fail to promote lasting behavior change or enhance performance and frequently make things worse. The remaining six chapters examine the effect of rewards and alternatives to them in companies, schools, and the home. Recommended for all types of libraries.
- Mary Chatfield, Angelo State Univ., San Angelo, Tex.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The idea that competition and reward are effective motivators forms the bedrock of our educational, economic, and managerial systems. Kohn, though, has strongly attacked the belief that competition is healthy and has documented its negative effects in No Contest: The Case against Competition (1986). Now he challenges the widely held assumption that incentives lead to improved quality and increased output in the workplace and in schools. He notes that the system of rewards and punishment is based on Pavlovian and Skinnerian behavioral theories, which are supported largely by experiments with laboratory animals. Kohn derides rewards as bribes and offers instead the proposition that collaboration (teamwork), content (meaningfulness), and choice (autonomy) will serve to motivate both students and workers. He marshals impressive theoretical support and, at the same time, uses humor disarmingly to argue his case. David Rouse --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I think the bottom line is that "do this and you will get that" is an easy way to administer both rewards and punishments. It allows us to be "consistent" without requiring us to go deeper in understanding motivation and behavior of our children or employees. It allows us to believe that we have used effective "discipline" - again without having to engage in uncomfortable or difficult conversations.
Bottom line: Kohn makes a great case against "do this and you will get that." But the alternative is not as simple, and that is probably why we fall back to "do this..." so readily.
I am no scientist, but I certainly trust "good" science and find it triggers my thinking about what we can do differently. We are closer today than we were when Kohn first published his book to finding alternative methods of paying people that allow real high performing organizations to exist. It will be difficult for many organizations to change, but those who do will excel in the marketplace, I believe. I am in for the ride, thanks to Alfie Kohn. Thanks, Alfie!
Co-Founder, The New Brain for Business Institute
Co-Author, A New Brain for Business: Leadership Practices that Unleash the Very Best from Your People and Your Business