Undermining the undermining effect of reward on sustained interest

Robert B. Cialdini, Nancy Eisenberg, Beth L. Green, Kelton Rhoads, Renee Bator

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Sometimes, without recourse to controlling rewards, it is difficult to secure desirable behaviors. Yet, much work has demonstrated the damaging effect that such rewards can have on subsequent independent interest in the reward-induced behavior. Therefore, one who feels required to use controlling rewards to increase desirable action in another faces a dilemma: Failing to employ the rewards means foregoing the desired conduct in the immediate situation, but applying them risks undermining the other's long-term interest in the conduct. We tested a technique designed to avoid this dilemma by (a) providing a controlling reward to obtain the desired action, but (b) then attributing the action to an abiding trait of the actor. Using this technique, we were able to reverse the damaging impact of a controlling reward on children's motivation to write well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-263
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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