Unleashing the Science of Human Behavior for 21st Century Institutions

This blog was originally posted on Identity Campaigning.

This TED Talk by Dan Pink lays it out beautifully.  Extrinsic rewards (as presumed by the theory of self-interest) lead to poor performance in every situation except where (a) the rules are clearly defined and (b) the outcome is known in advance.  The challenges we face are NOT this kind of problem.

Link to Video [Embedding doesn’t seem to work on this site]

The science is clear.  Extrinsic motivation kills creativity and perpetuates practices that are only suited to problems that have already been solved.

The alternative is also clear. Engage people at the level of personal identity and build social systems around what science tells us is the true nature of human behavior and you get surprisingly positive outcomes.  Intrinsic motivation not only delivers pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors… it also delivers solutions to previously intractable problems.

Now and into the future, we must build our organizations around real human nature that arises through research in the cognitive and behavioral sciences.

Re-published from Cognitive Policy Works.

Joe BrewerUnleashing the Science of Human Behavior for 21st Century Institutions

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  • rachel francis - January 25, 2010 reply

    I have been following the blogs on this site with great interest. The link to Dan Pink is inspiring and thank you for it.
    I set out a few years ago to learn how one might market “less” as a product … in my case on behalf of an independant, community led climate initiative called HES ( for more info)

    Marketing is regarded by most of my green colleagues as a “dark art.” Indeed it has been used to further selfish needs and, in doing so, has played a big part in the disempowerment of community and of individuals. We have ended up behaving as if (and being treated as if) we are consumers of, rather than contributors to, society.
    Marketing, as a powerful modern force, needs attention. I am inspired by Futerra’s concept of Selling Good. But here Dan offers us something with even more potential.
    If autonomy is a motivator … and in some instances a greater motivator than reward … then we can perhaps use this new understanding to unravel consumer society and to peel back the layers of marketing advice that have been ruthlessly imposed. What we are heading towards is a new sense of shared responsibility, shared solutions and invigorated power of community.

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