Overjustification Effect

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A fifth grader has just learned how to do some simple programming on her dad's computer. Now, her class at school is learning programming and she gets gold stars for doing well. If the overjustification effect occurs, what is likely to happen this summer when she no longer gets stars for programming?

a. She will not work as hard as she did before she received the award
b. She will continue at about the same rate as before she was rewarded
c. She will work harder than before she received the award
d. She will only work hard if there is a bigger reward later on

I think the answer is A. because when people are given more extrinsic motivation than necessary to perform a task, their intrinsic motivation declines. Is this correct?

  • Overjustification Effect -

    Often that is true, and probably the answer your instructor wants. However, in real life, any of the answers could be right, it depends on the motivation the child has, and the rewards she sees. Delayed gratification could well play an important part, as could internallized self awards.

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