– From Pai, Young (1973) Teaching, Learning and the Mind. Boston; Houghton-Mifflin. pgs. 94-117
This got me to thinking. A frequent (one might even say hackneyed) criticism of programming a high density of reinforcement in education is that such programing will create an artificial situation in which students’ “intrinsic motivation” will be undermined by the delivery of externally motivating events or items.
Setting aside whether or not the intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation distinction is valid, another question comes up — why is it that we characterize programmed positive reinforcement as artificial and prone to undermine intrinsic motivation but the myriad of programmed negative reinforcement contingencies, punishment contingencies, and forms of mildly aversive control we utilize are not also characterized as artificial and thus undermining “intrinsic motivation”?
Referring back to where this post started, if we choose to not program a high density of reinforcement, aren’t we predisposed (culturally?) to default to programming aversive approaches, which, it seems to me, are just as threatening to intrinsic motivation (if you should choose to buy into such a dubious concept).
– Matt Welch.