Journal Article

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Roland Bénabou and Jean Tirole

in The Review of Economic Studies

Published on behalf of Review of Economic Studies Ltd

Volume 70, issue 3, pages 489-520
Published in print July 2003 | ISSN: 0034-6527
Published online July 2003 | e-ISSN: 1467-937X | DOI:
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

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  • Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainy
  • Household Behaviour and Family Economics


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A central tenet of economics is that individuals respond to incentives. For psychologists and sociologists, in contrast, rewards and punishments are often counterproductive, because they undermine “intrinsic motivation”. We reconcile these two views, showing how performance incentives offered by an informed principal (manager, teacher, parent) can adversely impact an agent's (worker, child) perception of the task, or of his own abilities. Incentives are then only weak reinforcers in the short run, and negative reinforcers in the long run. We also study the effects of empowerment, help and excuses on motivation, as well as situations of ego bashing reflecting a battle for dominance within a relationship.

Keywords: D11; D82

Journal Article.  20022 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainy ; Household Behaviour and Family Economics

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