Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Focus on the process , social norms and values, not the money

As a young man I would always question the wisdom of spending much money on making  weddings, barmitvahs, family or school reunions until I was privileged to make a barmitvah, a wedding, attend reunions.  I then understood that money can't buy the feelings, the experiences , the attachments and relatedness that come with these occasions.

Dan Ariely talks of how we   convert social norms into economic norms

 Instead of talking about motives, feelings and values parents focus on behavior and convert the social norms into an economic ones when they use rewards, punishments and consequences. 

 In schools – instead of focusing on the process of learning, the learning experiences , we focus on data, test scores and how much they can buy kids in the job market. 

In the work place , managers incorrectly think that they can motivate workers with incentives. Everyone agrees that workers should be paid well, but managers don't appreciate that employees value ' relatedness , being able to direct your work , autonomy, being valued and respected above  'incentives'. 

When it comes to religion and character education rewards are used to get kids to do good deeds. A school tried to encourage kids to return lost articles or money found in school or on the playground by rewarding them. All of a sudden , kids were finding so many coins on the playground. A kid by mistake kicked a ball that hit a teacher. He ran away instead of offering help  -  he did not want to get caught. Rewards and punishments not only convert social norms into economic ones , they encourage and promote immoral behavior.

We should be helping kids to think in the following way.

A man who was about to go overseas for while approached his neighbor's  10 year old son. He asked him to look after his dog, take him for walks etc while he was away on holiday.

He asked the kid  -   How much ?

The kid -  I am willing to pay  $15

Parents , teachers and society as a whole should be helping people convert experiences from economic norms to social norms. If we focus on intrinsic motivation and reward we can help kids focus on the process and be guided by social norms


No comments:

Post a Comment