Keith Kendall's Reviews > Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise and Other Bribes

Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn
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Apr 02, 12

bookshelves: psychology
Read from March 08 to 12, 2012

By Alfie Kohn

Alas the book challenges so many of our cherished beliefs that I am beginning to see the the loss of motivation in a new light. It is disconcerting to see how widely his critique applies.


"Skinner spent his life denying the idea of choice and urging us to control reinforcers in the environment since they, in turn, control us." (p. 30)

The most notable aspect of a positive judgment is not that it is positive but that it is a judgment. (Page 102)

The legendary statistical consultant W. Edwards Deming, with his characteristic gift for understatement, has called the system by which Americans are praised and rewarded "the most power to inhibitor to quality and productivity in the Western world." He adds that it "nourishes short-term performance, annihilates long-term planning, builds fear, demolishes teamwork, nourishes rivalry and ... leaves people bitter." To this we can add that it is simply unfair to the extent that employees are held responsible for what are, in reality, systemic factors that are beyond their control. (Page 129)


Part 3 isn't as depressing as Part 1 was. There are no quick fixes; in fact, that is what makes behaviorism (rewards) so attractive. Rewards can be given to get the desired behavior without understanding the problem. In part 3 we are treated to recommendations not a few. Kohn recommends that really understanding why there is a problem is necessary to come up with an appropriate approach. I am now thinking about how I will "behave" differently because of reading this book.
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Reading Progress

03/08/2012 page 24
6.0%
03/10/2012 page 133
33.0% "Alas the book challenges so many of our cherished beliefs that I am beginning to the the loss of motivation in a new light. It is disconcerting to see how widely his critique applies."
03/11/2012 page 250
63.0% "Part 3 isn't as depressing as Part 1 was. No quick fixes, but he has through it through and gives recommendations not a few."

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