Not as They Seem
Alfie Kohn has an essay about how rewards are counterproductive. He's written numerous books on similar topics.
Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point) has just published Blink, which also talks about things that we assume to be one way, and are actually completely different. I referred to a speech he gave which you can listen to online here.
For some reason I find this kind of thing fascinating. It's something about having our "natural" assumptions turned completely upside down. I guess it it regularly reminds me that the world is not so predictable/boring as we come to expect.
This is also the motivation for questioning many of our assumptions about programming. I've had personal experiences where my assumptions have been wrong -- where I've discovered that something that I thought was helping was holding me back.
My friend Daniel commented:
I read something a while back about giving a reward BEFORE you start. That someone gave small bags of M&M's to groups before they started, and they performed much better, because they were happier. They don't have to be big things, just something small and pleasant sets the brain in a different mode. I now cannot find that article, even with my desktop google!
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