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Old 10-19-2007, 09:28 PM
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Default An Example of the Undermining Effects of Rewards on IM

The number one topic I studied during my masters degree in Sport Psychology was the effects of rewards on intrinsic motivation. You can read my articles on this subject under anatomy - psychology.

One of the main reasons I love following sports, is because I am constantly able to apply psychology principles I have learned to explain why people act, perform, and behave certain ways.

So if you guys have been monitoring the situation with the Yankees and Joe Torre. They recently offered him a contract. It was 2 million dollar pay cut, and incentive laden. Essentially, he had to go to the world series to get 3 million, and another year on his contract. Here was the Yankees rational for doing this:

"Under this offer, he would continue to be the highest-paid manager in major league baseball," team president Randy Levine said. "We thought that we need to go to a performance-based model, having nothing to do with Joe Torre's character, integrity or ability. We just think it's important to motivate people."

And here is where they made their mistake.

Essentially they went with the simplistic model of:

1 (intrinsic movitaion) + 1 (extrinsic motivation - performance contigent reward) = 2 more motivation.

But results show this is absolutely false.

If someone is intrinsically motivated to do something, which Joe Torre obviously is. Then the worst thing you can do to that individual is give them performance contingent rewards for doing their job. I am not going to go in detail; just read my articles if you want to learn why.

So I talked to Jake about this yesterday when this went down. And here is what Torre said today about why he declined the offer:

"I just felt the contract offer, the terms of the contract, were probably the thing I had the toughest time with -- the one year for one thing, the incentives for another thing," Torre said of his reasons for declining the offer. "I've been there 12 years and I didn't think motivation was needed."


You'd think that the richest team in baseball would have enough knowledge not to make such a bad move. If they actually were trying to motivate people, you'd think they would consult a psychologist. And if they did, they would have been told what hundreds of experiments have shown for over 3 decades now.
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