Rewards and Punishments: The research is out there

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Junior Member


Hi Riot,

Until a few years ago, I was very much a behaviorist. Apply the proper rewards and punishments, and people will logically adjust their behavior accordingly.

Then I enlisted in Peace Corps, and became a teacher in a 200 person village in Namibia. I wanted great behavior from my students so I could be the best teacher ever, so I set up my rewards system, set up my "consequences" system, and knew that I was covered.

And it was a complete failure.

To make a long story short, two years later my view on rewards and punishments has completely changed. After devouring book after book, I repeatedly encountered the same idea: rewards and punishments don't work.

So, I'm posting this message just as a way of sharing information with whatever department works with user behavior management. I'd recommend the following book for starters, but I'd imagine most research-based books on the topic would say something similar.

Punished by Rewards, by Alfie Kohn

I'm not an expert, but if you have any questions I'd be glad to share what I've read or experienced. Hope this helps you reach your goals of a friendly and respectful user community.