Punished by rewards
How much do I want to read more? 7/10
This book is big, and I'm more eager to read some specific chapters than the whole.
What interests me is Education, parenting and children psychology.
Ok, I started reading Part One and it's actually good. I will read further.
Some parts have too much details and are not that interesting, but overall, I like the author's style. He goes deep to reveal insights that go counterintuitively.
I found studies showing that rewarding children for their generosity is a spectacularly unsuccessful way of promoting that quality.
- Chapter 1 briefly reviews the behaviorist tradition.
- Chapter 2 weighs arguments about the intrinsic desirability of rewarding people.
- Chapter 3 moves from philosophical arguments to practical consequences. rewards simply do not work to promote lasting behavior change. they often make things worse.
- Chapters 4 and 5 explain why this is true
- Chapter 6 examines one particular reward that few of us would ever think to criticize: praise.
- The second half of the book examines the effect of rewards, and alternatives to them
- Chapters 7 and 10. Workplace issues.
- chapters 8 and 11. educational issues
- chapters 9 and 12. children's behavior and values.
Part One - THE CASE AGAINST REWARDS
1. SKINNER-BOXED: The Legacy of Behaviorism
THERE IS A TIME to admire the grace and persuasive power of an influential idea, and there is a time to fear its hold over us. The time to worry is when the idea is so widely shared that we no longer even notice it, when it is so deeply rooted that it feels to us like plain common sense.
when objections are not answered anymore because they are no longer even raised, we are not in control: we do not have the idea; it has us.
"Do this and you'll get that."
We promise bubble gum to a five-year-old if he keeps quiet in the supermarket. We dangle an A before a teenager to get her to study harder.
To take what people want or need and offer it on a contingent basis in order to control how they act—this is where the trouble lies.
Pigeons and Rodents and Dogs
- "Do this and you'll get that"—the so-called Law of Effect was set out by psychologist Edward Thorndike back in 1898.
- Frederick W. Taylor published his famous book, The Principles of Scientific Management, which described how tasks at a factory should be broken into parts, each assigned to a worker according to a precise plan, with financial rewards meted out to encourage maximum efficiency in production.
- A full century earlier, a system developed in England for managing the behavior of schoolchildren assigned some students to monitor others and distributed tickets (redeemable for toys) to those who did what they were supposed to do. a "token economy" program was eventually abandoned because, in the view of the school's trustees, the use of rewards "fostered a mercenary spirit".
- For as long as animals have been domesticated, people have been using rudimentary incentive plans to train their pets.
Rover salivates when he smells meat. By pairing an artificial stimulus with the natural one—say, ringing a bell when the steak appears—Rover comes to associate the two. Voilà—a response has been conditioned: the bell alone is now sufficient to elicit dog drool.
to argue that virtually everything we do—indeed, who we are—can be explained in terms of the principle of reinforcement. This is the essence of behaviorism.
Skinner is a man who conducted most of his experiments on rodents and pigeons and wrote most of his books about people. people to him were different from other species only in the degree of their sophistication.
Watson: "Man is an animal different from other animals only in the types of behavior he displays,"
he insisted that organisms (including us, remember) are nothing more than "repertoires of behaviors," and these behaviors can be fully explained by outside forces he called "environmental contingencies."
I am sometimes asked, "Do you think of yourself as you think of the organisms you study?" The answer is yes. So far as I know, my behavior at any given moment has been nothing more than the product of my genetic endowment, my personal history, and the current setting…. If I am right about human behavior, I have written the autobiography of a nonperson.
His mother's death is related without feeling, and the process of raising his two daughters is described as if it were one of Frederick Taylor's efficiency studies.
This uncanny detachment permeated his life.
And love? Brace yourself. When two people meet:
one of them is nice to the other and that predisposes the other to be nice to him, and that makes him even more likely to be nice. It goes back and forth, and it may reach the point at which they are very highly disposed to do nice things to the other and not to hurt. And I suppose that is what would be called "being in love"
for Skinner, our actions, too, can be completely described in terms of causes. Freedom is just an illusion.
what we are is nothing other than what we do. This is the belief that gives behaviorism its name.