Burns (1997) hypothesized an over justification effect which results in the shifting of attributions for behaviour away from interest in the activity to external factors, such as reward. Regardless of the method of measurement of IM, the contention that reward may reduce IM is suggested. Deci (1976) further compounded the issue by considering reward and reinforcement as equivalent events, which implies that operant methods of changing behaviour may in fact be destroying intrinsic motivation. As noted by Scott (1976) this implication is a distortion of reinforcement theory.
Deci’s methodology does include examination of the performance on the treatment task by the rewarded and unrewarded groups but only for the purpose of assuring equivalent performance across groups. If reward does not increase performance it cannot be defined as a reinforcer. Deci’s studies leave unanswered the question of how a reinforcer affects IM. Consequently, this issue became a major factor in the present study in an effort to compare the views of CET and Operant Theory (OT). How does OT view motivation? This perspective is based on the traditional methods of scientific inquiry.
Only directly observable responses and stimuli are considered as valid sources of information. Thus, it is not surprising that OT has been focused on external motivation of behaviour, stimuli in the environment which affect the frequency of a response. In the past twenty-five years the external motivators of behaviour have been studied in animals in the laboratory and in humans in the laboratory and the classroom (Hitt, 2006). The basic tenet of this theory holds that response rate can be accelerated or decelerated through selected arrangements of observable consequences.
If such consequences act to increase or maintain a response then the consequences are identified as reinforcers. Consequences cannot be defined as reinforcers unless they act to increase or maintain behaviours, necessitating a post hoc analysis of effects of “reward. ” Even a generalized reinforcer like money, which has often been selected as a consequence in studies of motivation due to the high probability that it will be reinforcing, would not be defined as a reinforcer prior to an analysis of its effects.
Another aspect of Operant Theory deserves mention because of its relevance to CET hypotheses which are relevant for tasks that are highly interesting to the subjects. Operant Theory acknowledges the importance of the reinforcement history of the individual. The amount and type of reinforcement or punishment on previous, similar occasions, whether inherent to the task or contrived, will impact on later learning. The success or failure in previous encounters with the task plays an important role in determining the impact of any stimuli in a current task.
Despite this acknowledgement, the vast majority of operant research has focused on the value of external reinforcement on increasing current performance. In fact, the role of performance is viewed as so powerful that Scott (1976) suggests that high performance will be accompanied by feelings of interest and competency for that or a similar task. The more pragmatic applications of motivation through reinforcement as viewed by OT are myriad in education. Behaviour modification is widely used in school systems as one means of improving student performance in the classroom.
Students are offered a wide variety of incentives, from grades to gold stars to food as rewards for certain behaviours. As a short term goal, improvement in current desirable behaviour is naturally of great interest, but what of long term goals? Will use of OT to improve performance today have negative effects on later motivation? Maehr (1976) integrates these educational concerns and the utilization of Operant Theory in the classroom with the outcomes of much of the literature on IM.
He contends that education must be focused on performance outside the classroom, that the learning of information and skills is desirable because of the need for their utilization outside the confines of the academic environment. According to Maehr, this kind of learning may not be directly dependent on any particular academic environment, but might instead rest within the individual. This type of IM is defined as the tendency to return to and continue working on tasks away from the instructional context in which they were originally confronted and termed “continuing motivation” by Maehr.
All of these authors have made substantial contributions to the body of literature on IM. This literature, and the response of researchers and educators in general to it, are compelling for three reasons. First, academicians who have become aware of the work on IM may jettison operant methods such as behaviour modification from fear of negative impact on IM. Operant methods for changing behaviour have long had a reputation among teachers of being manipulative.
Any indication from research results that a reward might be damaging could receive a premature welcome and adoption in schools. Second, close examination of IM research reveals several omissions and some methodological confusion which can only be clarified through further research. In the majority of studies, the activity assigned to the subjects was a problem-solving type of task which was “assumed” to be highly interesting to all the subjects. No measures of initial interest were taken.
Is it possible that reward might have different effects on subjects with different levels of initial interest? What about the effects of task difficulty? It seems likely that initial interest, task difficult and reward might interact in determining IM. Only a few studies have even considered difficulty (Arkes, 1980). Arkes found the effects of perceived task difficulty to have such a powerful impact on feelings of competency about that fact that any effect for reward, negative or positive, on other measures of IM was considered negligible.
Intrinsic motivation for a highly interesting task appeared to be much greater when the activity was perceived as being more difficult. He formulated a competency principle for these effects hereafter referred to as Arkes Competency Principle (ACP). Finally, the conflict between operant hypotheses and those arising from IM research, especially CET, merits further research. This conflict has not been dealt with adequately in the literature.
The distortion of operant principles by Deci appears to have resulted in a refusal by operant theorists to even address the issues. There is a need for more comprehensive and objective consideration of the methodologies, factors, and comparison of OT and CET hypotheses. In consequence to globalisation, awareness and paradigm shift in the needs many executives have reached to the state where present motivational tools based upon the theories of Give me factors like OT and CET are not sufficient to motivate them further.
This does not necessarily mean that these motivational tools have become ineffective altogether, but they have stopped working as catalyst in many cases as more executives are developing resistance towards them day by day. Focus is shifting from carrying higher pay packets to balanced meaningful life as executives are looking for profitability, sustainability for their organizations with significant social impact.
Many executives acquire the status of world citizen by virtue of their association with the organizations, which have global spread. While managing business globally, they become sensitive to the social issues also as business and society is indispensable to each other. Therefore, they get stimulus effect from the social imbalances and become motivated to correct social problems through their contribution to the society along with their professional responsibilities.
In conclusions, it is easy to recognize that the data offer more support for OT than CET even though reward did not behave statistically as a reinforcer (it did not increase performance, on the treatment task). We can also identify that lack of measurement of some variables in the past studies of IM may be the reason for much of the controversy about the effects of reward on motivation. This is very interesting subject and as Burnes (1997) says “as need fulfilment never ends, motivation is never exhausted”.