Beeminder Forum

Beeminder and Intrinsic Motivation

There have been many psychological studies showing that monetary rewards can actually decrease motivation, and that intrinsic motivation gets better outcomes in the long term. So the question I’m interested in hearing users perspectives on is: “Does/Can the monetary punishment used in beeminder actually decrease intrinsic motivation? (And by extension decrease work quality?)”


I don’t know how much you can extrapolate data from the former (carrots) with the latter (sticks).

Anyways, to answer your question: No it doesn’t for me, but I can see how it might.

Doing work solely because Beeminder tells you to is very far-off for me because I’m only using Beeminder to do keep myself accountable in regards to doing things that I actually want to do, but am sometimes too lazy/distracted to do without it. (And the reasons I want to do this work has to do with deep-seated philosophical values which my monkeyweasel mind cannot shake off easily.)

I am assuming that within these studies, there is not such a value-based foundation for the tasks that are being monetarily rewarded (you’d have to link them though), and so the participantsmight be demotivated to do the tasks as their intrinsic motivations might be subdued by reactance.

Although sure, there are days when I might feel super exhausted, and the work I put out isn’t very good, but the alternative is just no work getting done instead.

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Exactly! It’s the Want Can Will test. For me, my Beeminder goals are a reminder of the things that I wanted to do or make progress toward.

What does happen, with both rewards and punishments, is the habituation effect of the hedonic treadmill – even a high level of sting will become normal and less motivating than you’d hope. This might mean that all progress is actually because of intrinsic factors, despite the presence of an external reminder.