Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes

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Overview

The basic strategy we use for raising children, teaching students, and managing workers can be summarized in six words: Do this and you'll get that. We dangle goodies (from candy bars to sales commissions) in front of people in much the same way we train the family pet. Drawing on a wealth of psychological research, Alfie Kohn points the way to a more successful strategy based on working with people instead of doing things to them. "Do rewards motivate people?" asks Kohn. "Yes. They motivate people to get ...

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Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes

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Overview

The basic strategy we use for raising children, teaching students, and managing workers can be summarized in six words: Do this and you'll get that. We dangle goodies (from candy bars to sales commissions) in front of people in much the same way we train the family pet. Drawing on a wealth of psychological research, Alfie Kohn points the way to a more successful strategy based on working with people instead of doing things to them. "Do rewards motivate people?" asks Kohn. "Yes. They motivate people to get rewards." Seasoned with humor and familiar examples, Punished By Rewards presents an argument unsettling to hear but impossible to dismiss.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"a clear, convincing demonstration of the shortcomings of pop-behaviorism, written with style, humor, and authority," Kirkus Reviews

"Every parent, teacher, and manager should read this book—and hurry."—Thomas Gordon, founder of Parent Effectiveness Training

Library Journal
Kohn, the author of other iconoclastic books, among them You Know What They Say: The Truth About Popular Beliefs ( LJ 8/90), here shows how rewards of all sorts undermine our efforts to teach students, manage workers, and raise children. Although aimed at a general audience, the book is based on extensive research and documented with almost 100 pages of notes and references. The first six review the behaviorist tradition and lay out in a clear and convincing manner Kohn's central argument that ``pop behaviorism'' is dangerously prevalent in our society. Here Kohn discusses why rewards, including praise, fail to promote lasting behavior change or enhance performance and frequently make things worse. The remaining six chapters examine the effect of rewards and alternatives to them in companies, schools, and the home. Recommended for all types of libraries.-- Mary Chatfield, Angelo State Univ., San Angelo, Tex.
Booknews
To quote the press release: "Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and social theory." Beyond that, his qualifications are not spelled out, but his case against extrinsic awards is backed up with substantial notes and references and is thus head and shoulders above many other books for general audiences on what motivates people. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618001811
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 225,536
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Alfie Kohn's six previous books include Punished by Rewards and No Contest: The Case Against Competition, as well as Beyond Displine and What to Look for in a Classroom. Descrilbed by Time magazine last year as "perhaps the country's most outspoken critic of educational fixation on grades and test scores," he is a popular lecturer, speaker to teachers, parents, and reasearchers accross the country. The author currently resides in Belmont, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Pt. 1 The Case Against Rewards
1 Skinner-Boxed: The Legacy of Behaviorism 3
2 Is It Right to Reward? 19
3 Is It Effective to Reward? 35
4 The Trouble With Carrots: Four Reasons Rewards Fail 49
5 Cutting the Interest Rate: The Fifth Reason Rewards Fail 68
6 The Praise Problem 96
Pt. 2 Rewards in Practice
7 Pay for Performance: Why Behaviorism Doesn't Work in the Workplace 119
8 Lures for Learning: Why Behaviorism Doesn't Work in the Classroom 142
9 Bribes for Behaving: Why Behaviorism Doesn't Help Children Become Good People 160
Pt. 3 Beyond Rewards
Introduction 179
10 Thank God It's Monday: The Roots of Motivation in the Workplace 181
11 Hooked on Learning: The Roots of Motivation in the Classroom 198
12 Good Kids Without Goodies 228
Appendix A: A Conversation with B. F. Skinner 259
Appendix B: What Is Intrinsic Motivation? 270
Appendix C: The Behaviorists Talk Back 277
Notes 285
References 352
Name Index 385
Subject Index 387
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2008

    ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!!!

    Mr.Kohn's insightful analysis on why rewards never have and never will work for anybody is a must read.I've personally been through everything that is described in the book from the 'do it and you'll get a piece of pie after dinner' to 'if you don't get on the honor roll, you aren't getting that new bike you wanted.' I've noticed many things about the people who've criticized Mr.Kohn. For starters, they are usually the very people who exercise the power over kids that's so damaging to everybody. Second, the so called 'PhDs' and 'psychiatrists' who rant and rave about how Kohn supposedly sets up sraw men arguments and then attacks them in his books are setting up and then attacking their own straw men because they're too proud of themselves to admit that Mr. Kohn is right and they're wrong. I'm personally sick and tired of these people. Thank you so much Mr.Kohn! I plan on being a leader of the progressive movement when I teach.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2002

    Understanding Motivation

    For anyone who has internal motivation, this book is a must read. If you have ever been insulted by incentives and artifical rewards, this book helps you gain an understanding of why these gimmicks don't work for you. This book not only helps you understand the work place,it also helps you from making the mistake of implementing reward and punishment programs with your children. The work of Alfie Kohn should be read by every parent, educator and business manager who cares about true motivation.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2001

    Such Common Sense. Can we save our children?

    This book has changed my whole approach to my child and affected my decisions about my child's education. He has severe ADD and he has spent a year in a small class with a rigid and insulting behavior mod system. I knew it was not working but not until I started reading this book did I understand the basis of my intuition. I yanked my child out and feel so positive about the move. I wish Alfie Kohn, the common sense and the already done brain research had more power than the politicians. This book is very dense and a little academic but worth the effort.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2014

    Life-changing; definitely worth reading!

    Punished by Rewards totally overturned my whole way of thinking about things, especially education. I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2005

    VERY GOOD

    I was looking up for books on how to get straight A. I was also hoping that there is some magic ways to motivate myself. This book talks about how rewarding ruin motivation, and I found its true. If you are one of those students like me hoping to get good grade through rewards, I suggest you to buy this book and read it over. It really helps!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2004

    Standard non-conformist silly pseudo-science

    What you will find in this book, if you ignore the first six chapters, are some really good common sense points followed-up with some radical extrapolations. This is a common strategy, so let me inform you of the tactic. Step (1): Set-up a straw man for the opposition. Mr. Kohn does this by proposing that behaviorism is all about 'do this to get that'. This is silly and untrue, though it plays to the uninformed myth. Step (2): Make some common sense points that seem to make you know what you are talking about. Mr. Kohn does this using various studies which either don't say what he implies, or which can just as easily support a real behaviorist interpretation. Once again, the points are made against the 'straw man', not really aginst behaviorism. Step (3): Suggest some of the stuff people usually don't listen to. Here is where Mr. Kohn rants against grades, etc. It is all predictable and designed to reduce the amount of skepticism the weird suggestions are faced with. Read this book to get some of the good ideas, but disregard the first six chapters (straw-man for behaviorism), and the sillier of his other suggestions. Anyway, most of the good stuff from this book can already be had from a good teacher training program, an i/o psychology business minor, or a hundred other good books you might find by using your little mouse on this very site.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2000

    A Must Read for Business, School, and Home!!!

    Alfie Kohn puts into print the newest research and truths of behavioral psychology. This was a wonderfully organized and well thought out book. He gives great examples and advice on how to change behavior and brings out an important truth, TRUST. I really enjoyed this book.

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