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The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

By Daniel Pink
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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

In Drive, Daniel Pink describes the characteristics of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. He reveals that many companies rely on extrinsic motivation, even though this is often counterproductive. The book explains clearly how we can best motivate ourselves and others by understanding intrinsic motivation.

Key idea 1 of 8

There is another way: Motivation 3.0 – intrinsic motivation in place of exterior incentives.

Until 1949, it was assumed that human and animal behavior was controlled by inner drives and exterior motivations. Then professor of psychology Harry Harlowe made a discovery that disproved this theory:

He gave eight Rhesus monkeys a mechanical puzzle. Since the primates would receive neither food nor praise if they solved the puzzle, he was convinced they would not concern themselves with it.

However, the monkeys gave it a go, recognized how it worked, and, without any exterior incentives, solved it with great enjoyment. Such behavior is also typical for us humans.

The development of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, for example, is just as intriguing. Tens of thousands of people write and edit articles for Wikipedia voluntarily, out of pure enjoyment. They invest valuable working time in this endeavor and receive not even the lowest material reward in return. Although the growth of Wikipedia was dependent on voluntary writers, the project became an enormous success. In contrast, its rival product, Microsoft Encarta, whose development was in the hands of well-paid professional authors and editors, was closed down some years ago.

In both the Rhesus monkeys and the Wikipedia example, motivation is not driven by basic needs, rewards or sanctions. How, then, can it be explained?

There is another inner force that drives us: the intrinsic Motivation 3.0. When a person finds a job fulfilling, no further reward is necessary. Merely the joy of being able to program an application such as Firefox or to publish recipes on the internet for other people to benefit from is, frequently, motivation enough.

Intrinsically motivated people want to be able to dictate when they work, what they work on, and what they are responsible for. They do not need to be directed or rewarded, because they enjoy working and do so voluntarily, without demanding anything in return.

There is another way: Motivation 3.0 – intrinsic motivation in place of exterior incentives.

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