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Incentive theory

The Incentive Theory explains how rewards, both tangible and intangible, motivate behavior by associating positive meaning with it. This theory emphasizes positive reinforcement through continuous positive stimulation. It's not about removing punishment (negative reinforcement), but about encouraging actions that bring happiness. The theory is key in understanding motivation and behavior. Created by Shreena Desai.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user Precious White
    Could you more accurately distinguish between the Drive Reduction theory vs. Incentive?
    (14 votes)
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    • male robot hal style avatar for user ali.kara
      Drive reduction theory focuses on internal factors in motivation; it posits that people are motivated to take action in order to lessen the state of arousal caused by a physiological need. This theory is best applied to innate biological drives that are critical for immediate survival.
      Incentive theory on the other hand, states that people are motivated by external rewards. For example, a person who is motivated to do to work everyday because he/she enjoys receiving a fat paycheck, an external incentive.
      (45 votes)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user tian1di2 jax
    if incentives drive all actions then how could anyone be altruistic?
    (3 votes)
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    • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Glitterbug
      tricky question. Did you ever see that episode of Friends where they prove that no good deed is truly selfless, because you will feel good about your actions, and feel happy knowing that you made someone else happy? haha i feel like the answer is in there somewhere.
      (18 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user DreamLink97
    What does "removal of a punishment is NOT given to encourage a certain behavioral response". (at minute ) This means a negative reinforcement which is to encourage a behavioral response? Please clarify!
    (4 votes)
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  • starky sapling style avatar for user AlexG6701
    Would it be accurate to say that Incentive theory is based on positive reinforcement and drive reduction theory is based on negative reinforcement?
    (3 votes)
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    • mr pants teal style avatar for user sahi.akshita
      Negative reinforcement occurs when you take away a "bad" stimulus to increase a certain behavioural response. This in turn, causes a reinforcement of said response. The way I see it is this:
      If you look at the example in the video for the drive reduction theory, then the problem is thirst, which you take away by doing lunges. In other words, you can reduce thirst (remove a negative stimulus) by doing lunges, which reinforces the exercise. So, IMO drive reduction theory is associated with negative reinforcement.
      (3 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Morgan
    Literally every other resource says that incentives can be either positive or negative, which conflicts with the information in this video. Unfortunately it seems that a lot of these videos on the P/S section are inaccurate
    (3 votes)
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  • piceratops seedling style avatar for user mauxesm
    Is there a way to set continuous play? I like to watch the videos while I workout and it's not easy to keep tapping the buttons to get to the next videos?
    (3 votes)
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  • old spice man blue style avatar for user Lygranze
    What does the incentive theory say about once the incentive or opportunity for getting the reward is removed?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user William Raynor
    She said that negative reinforcement is something taken away to encourage a response (). Punishment, negative or positive, is always going to discourage a behavior.
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user breadpudding567
    Incentives can be differentiated into those that encourage a desirable behavior (through positive reinforcement/adding something or negative reinforcement/taking something away) or those that discourage an undesirable behavior (punishment). They are external in nature.

    In contrast, the drive-reduction theory focuses on internal drives/motivations.

    I agree with the other comments that this video is EXTREMELY inaccurate and inconsistent with every other external resource.
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Adrianne Kam
    Which of the five schools of thought discussed in the "Instincts, Arousal, Needs, Drives: Drive-Reduction and Cognitive Theories" video does this theory fall in?
    (1 vote)
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    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user GC
      The closest school of thought that I associate the incentive theory with is the drive reduction theory. However, the drive reduction theory appears to focus on physiological/internal needs, while the incentive theory is more related to external factors, which leads me to believe they are different.
      (2 votes)

Video transcript

Voiceover: In this video, I'm going to talk about the Incentive Theory. And hopefully, clarify a few points that may be confusing. So the Incentive Theory states, that a reward, tangible or intangible, is presented after the occurrence of an action. With the intention of causing the behavior to occur again, and this is done by associating a positive meaning to the behavior. Now remember, that's the key point. Positive meaning to the behavior. For example, the incentive for performing well at work is getting a promotion. Or an added benefit as a reward or maybe even something intangible like job satisfaction and pride of accomplishment. The incentive for an NFL player or even a team to practice hard and win games during the season is winning the Super Bowl and being recognized as champions in the end. An incentive for getting good grades and being a well-rounded high school student is getting a scholarship reward to college. So studies have shown if the reward is given immediately, then the effect of behavior occurring again is greater. These rewards have to be obtainable in order to be motivating, so they can't be impossible to reach or that person isn't gonna feel motivated to perform that behavior again. If someone feels like the reward is impossible to get, then they're going to be less motivated to strive for it. The Incentive Theory focuses on positive reinforcement, remember I said, the key is positive meaning to the behavior. So it focuses on positive reinforcement as opposed to negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is given after a response, and it's to increase the future frequency or magnitude of the behavioral response. And this is only done through continuous positive stimulation. So the person has to be continually motivated or positively stimulated in order to see that behavior occurring over and over. The removal of a punishment is not the given to encourage a certain behavioral response; this would be called negative reinforcement, and it's not what Incentive Theory is focused on. Incentive theory's focused on conditioning an incentive to make a person happier, not the other way around like in the Drive Reduction theory. Skinner, the most distinguished psychologist of the Incentive Theory, said that a person will more likely do an action that is positively received, while he will more likely avoid an action that is negatively received. This theory views the stimulus as something that attracts a person towards it, rather than something that prompts a person to reduce it or totally eradicate it. As children, we were continuously given incentives from our parents, as a way to learn right from wrong and strive higher in whatever task was at hand. So there you have it. That's the Incentive Theory in a nutshell. And hopefully, I was able to clarify a few points that may be confused with the Drive Reduction theory.