Monday, January 19, 2009

Motivating Adherence: Money vs. Pride?

Is providing people with money for a job well-done a good way to promote healthy behaviors? Probably not. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have shown that paying people to lose weight acts as an extrensic motivator, and works... but only for short-term goals. Unfortunately, health is a long-term trek.
Psychologists have known for many years that regular rewards can greatly diminish intrinsic motivation and habit formation. That's how Christmas bonuses work... random prizes to stimulate workers' motivation. This is also how gambling works. Unfortunately, with something like health, there is no obvious short-term or even long-term reward. This is why health programs that are successful draw attention to a patient's successes, however small, and encourage patients to create short-term attainable goals in order to develop a sense of pride, a key motivating factor.

LINK