Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us [10:47]


The classic economic theory of what motivates us in the workplace is pretty cut and dry: people will do more and better work for more money, and to avoid punishments.  However, recent research by psychologists, economists, and sociologists have consistently shown this is not the case.  For simple, mechanical work this is the true, but once people have met their basic needs and if the work is more creative and cognitive then more monetary incentives won’t increase performance and can actually impair it.  That people are more interested in autonomy, mastery, and purpose is evident in the rise of organizations like Linux and Wikipedia where people give away highly skilled work for free for the sake of the public good.

Discussion Questions

  • What is the classic understanding of our motivations?  And how does the video disagree with it?
  • How do incentives affect performance with work that requires mechanical skills vs cognitive skills?  Why do you think that is?
  • What are autonomy, mastery, and purpose?  And why are they so important?
  • Do you think that society will ever move beyond the ‘carrot and stick’ model of motivation?

Keywords: psychology, motivation, economics, reward, autonomy, career, incentive, mastery, meaning, purpose, work, money


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