Motivation

If you do what you love doing, it becomes what you are good at

comment to You’re Not Meant To Do What You Love. You’re Meant To Do What You’re Good At. by Brianna Wiest, who arguments that the skills of people are "a blueprint of their destiny". For support she describes experience with people who try to do something they do not actually enjoy doing.

This whole argument sits on the assumption that skills develop somehow on their own.

Skills develop, because you use them. So if you do what you love doing (note the nuance!), then — except in rare cases — this becomes what you are good at.

Motivation and Reward

Debunking the myth that you can increase the performance of creative workers with carrot and stick.

Update: I sent this text to the gnu maintainers, and after the original article had been offline for several years, they now managed to convince Alfie Kohn to allow them to distribute the article again. So Studies Find Reward Often No Motivator is finally online again! → gnu.org/p/motivation.html

Update: I got the feedback that some messages in this article are still unclear. High income and long term contracts are no tool to increase motivation in the free software world. They are a tool to allow people to work full-time without reducing their motivation. High income and long term contracts avoid the harmful effect payment can have on performance while enabling people to work full-time on the project. An empirical study found, that the source and intensity of motivation of free software developers does not differ significantly between people who work for hire and people who work without payment, so many companies employing free software developers seem to do it right (or only the companies who do it right can keep their free software programmers).1

A few months ago, the GNU project had to withdraw its article on motivation and monetary reward, because its author did not allow them to spread it anymore. So I recreated its core - with references to solid research.

Executive Summary

For creative tasks, the quality of performance strongly correllates with intrinsic motivation: Being interested in the task itself.

This article will only talk about that.

The main factors which are commonly associated with intrinsic motivation are:

  • Positive verbal feedback which increases intrinsic motivation.
  • Payment independent of performance which actually has no effect.
  • Payment dependent on performance which reduces the motivation on the long term.
  • Negative verbal feedback which directly reduces intrinsic motivation.
  • Threatening someone with punishment which strongly reduces intrinsic motivation.

To make it short: Anything which diverts the focus from the task at hand towards some external matter (either positive or negative) reduces the intrinsic motivation and that in turn reduces work performance.

If you want to help people perform well, make sure that they don’t have to worry about other stuff besides their work and give them positive verbal feedback about the work they do.

Note: In the paper »Why Hackers Do What They Do: Understanding Motivation and Effort in Free/Open Source Software Projects« from 2005, Karim R. Lakhani and Robert G Wolf showed empirically that the payment people get to work in free software projects has no detrimental effect on their intrinsic motivation. In their sample 40% of the developers were paid for their work on free software projects and their intrinsic motivation was as high as the motivation of unpaid developers.


  1. We find […], that enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation, namely how creative a person feels when working on the project, is the strongest and most pervasive driver. The source and intensity of motivation of free software developers does not differ significantly between people who work for hire and people who work without payment. From Why Hackers Do What They Do: Understanding Motivation and Effort in Free/Open Source Software Projects by Karim R. Lakhani* and Robert G Wolf** from the * MIT Sloan School of Management | The Boston Consulting Group and ** The Boston Consulting Group. 

Datenschutz im ArGe-n - zu viele Bewerbungen pro Stelle und gesellschaftliche Kosten

-> Antwort auf eine Belegung der Arbeitslosen- und Stellenzahlen in den heise.de-Foren:

Carsten001 schrieb am 17. November 2009 00:43

> Woher die Zahlen? Na die offiziellen Zahlen. ...
> Also für sie nochmal zusammengerechnet 3,7+5,2+2,1+1,2=12,2 Mio. ...
> Offene Stellen gemeldet,je nach Monat zwischen 700.000-800.000
> Quellen sind Agentur für Arbeit und diverse Medien(offziell). ...
> Aber ich mach wohl die Mühe für umsonst

Nö - schließlich lesen das auch andere, und für mich ist die Belegung der Zahlen verdammt interessant! Danke!

Die Lösung weniger (bin anderer Meinung :) ), aber die Zahlen sagen klar: Es gibt nur für jeden 15. Arbeitnehmer eine Stelle.

Eine gesunde Gesellschaft braucht kein Geld als Anerkennungsersatz

Zu Warum leben wir nicht schon in der Zeit von Jean-Luc Picard?!?:

> Oder was hätten viele zum Tauschen anzubieten? Startrek funktioniert doch ideell nur, weil jeder was zu bieten hat, eine Begabung, etc. und sich in die Gesellschaft einbringt. Solange es aber noch Mode ist den Staat abzuzocken und sich so "einzubringen", solange klappt das nicht. - CasiJustin

Frage: Wieviele machen das wirklich?

Erwartete Belohnung tötet die Motivation

Ich habe gerade mal wieder auf den GNU-Seiten gelesen, und dabei einen Artikel gefunden, der meine Erfahrungen im Studium nicht nur bestätigt, sondern sie auch noch verallgemeinert:

Eine Belohnung zu bekommen, wenn man etwas "richtig" gemacht hat, tötet die Motivation.

gnu.org/philosophy/motivation.html - Link tot, da der Artikel nach >10 Jahren vom Autor zurückgezogen wurde ("nein, ihr dürft doch nicht").

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Willkommen im Weltenwald!



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