Money and Motivation

By Jim Whitt

Just how effective is money as a motivator? Research conducted by MIT, the University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon reveals that monetary rewards do improve performance when applied to simple mechanical tasks. But when more advanced cognitive skill is required, monetary rewards not only fail to motivate but actually de-motivate.

So what does motivate us? The research identifies three factors:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

This is not some touchy, feely, new age philosophy or someone’s opinion — it’s science. If you are skeptical you’ll find the results of this research summarized in a short and very entertaining video at

What I saw in the video did not surprise me. It validated everything I have learned in more than two decades of working with people and organizations as a management consultant. The most powerful principle of human behavior that I have discovered is this: Without a purpose our only motivation is reward and punishment. That one simple statement is the foundation of my approach to personal and organizational development.

If you want to learn more give me a call at 918-740-4041 or email me at jim@

Leave a Comment