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The Natural Rewards

An important distinction has been emphasized in the psychology literature between two basic types of rewards.[1] One type of reward is the externally administered reward we most often identify regarding work organizations. A list of examples of this type of reward would include praise, a pay raise, time off, a promotion, an award of some kind, a bonus, and so on. In the previous chapter it was argued that many such rewards can be self-applied to influence positively our own motivation.

A second type of reward can also be identified that is generally less recognized and less understood, but that is no less important. This second type concerns rewards that are so closely tied to a given task or activity that the two cannot be separated. For example, an individual who enjoys reading the newspaper and spends a great deal of time doing so is engaging in an activity that could be described as naturally rewarding. No special externally administered or self-administered incentives are necessary to motivate this behavior. The incentives are built into the task itself. Of course, some externally applied rewards may result, such as compliments from others on being well informed. This emphasizes the fact that both types of rewards can be and often are at work at the same time. Still, the importance and power of these natural rewards should be recognized and, where possible, positively used.


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