The Bonus Book of the Week is “Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Dan Pink, published in 2009.

Studies in psychology have shown that when money is offered as an incentive to do a creative activity, people are less motivated to do that activity, than when they were previously doing it for fun, for free! The reason is that it would smack of being a job–so the creator would have less autonomy over their product.

In the 1960’s, a management professor at MIT theorized about two types of sets of behaviors.

People who exhibit Type X behaviors:

  • are motivated externally– by money or other incentives outside themselves;
  • believe that everyone’s level of intelligence is fixed and cannot be augmented (“entity theory of intelligence”);
  • set goals that are externally determined, such as getting A on a test (“performance goals”); this way, they can blame someone else if they fail; and
  • look down upon those who exert effort to solve a problem or master a skill they’re not naturally good at.

People who exhibit Type Y behaviors are the opposite:

  • are motivated internally (“type I internal motivators”) — doing creative activities for fun, for free makes them happy;
  • believe that everyone’s level of intelligence can be augmented with effort (“incremental theory of intelligence”);
  • prefer to set goals within their control (“learning goals”) such as learning a foreign language fluently; incidentally, this way, they have no excuses if they fail; and
  • aren’t embarrassed to exert extra effort if necessary to solve a problem or improve a skill.

People who engage in Type Y behaviors, rather than type X behaviors, are growth-oriented, naturally happier, and their work-product is more creative. They are not constantly trying to live up to someone else’s standards. The Type X people (unsurprisingly!) are prone to unethical actions and addictive behaviors; they are dishonest, interested in reaping a short-term reward, and don’t care about long-term, adverse consequences.

Read the book to get more interesting theories on motivation, and insights into the behaviors of specific people who (immediately!) come to mind, and Pink’s tips for motivating people in business, education and other situations.