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When Play Becomes Work

Shankar Vedantam explores the widely accepted belief that extrinsic rewards can get people to do things. Research studies, Vedantam shows, points the other way around -- external rewards kill the inner drive.

"External rewards and punishments are counterproductive when it comes to activities that are meaningful -- tasks that telegraph something about a person's intellectual abilities, generosity, courage or values. People will voluntarily perform intellectually arduous work, for example, because it gives them pleasure to solve a puzzle or win a game of wits."

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