In this article we will discuss about Incentives. After reading this article you will learn about: 1. Meaning of Incentive 2. Types of Incentives.
Meaning of Incentive:
A goal is a reward, an incentive or a motivation towards which behaviour is directed. The term incentive refers to the motivational value of a reinforcer.
In Ruch’s (1970) opinion “a goal refers to some substance, objects or environmental condition capable of reducing or temporarily eliminating the complex of internal conditions which initiated action”. Skinner and Bugelski have shown symbolic incentives in rats temporarily eliminating the complex of internal conditions which initiated action”.
Thus without an incentive or reinforcer motivation cannot be fulfilled. For any motivation to work effectively, reinforcement and incentive is essential. The incentive may be positive or negative like food or electric shock or reward and punishment. It may be material, semi-material or non-material. It may also be verbal, non-verbal, biological or social. Sometimes various incentives act in a symbolic manner, when it does not have direct reinforcing powers.
Token experiments by Wulfe (1936) and Cowles (1937) have proved this. By achieving the goal through the incentive satisfaction of the motive takes place. The goal or incentive varies with the nature of the drive. A goal may be distant or near, it may be a long range behaviour sequence or a short range behaviour sequence.
Usually near goals act as better motivators than distant goals. Take a case of an infant of seven months old. A toy is kept at near distance. He tries to catch hold it by crawling. But the moment, it is kept at a distance place, away from the reach of the baby, the baby gives up the attempt to reach the toy as he feels that it is beyond his reach. This experiment was conducted by the author on his seven months old grandson on several occasions and the result was more or less same. Similarly, when remunerations for valuation work are paid to the evaluators immediately after the work is over or on a weekly basis, examiners are motivated to evaluate the scripts. Positive incentives like verbal and non-verbal rewards release drives and influence the speed and accuracy of performance of motivating the persons to do a particular kind of work.
Punishment is a negative incentive by which the reward is removed or withheld and some sort of painful stimulation is applied. Negative incentive inhibit certain drives. Praise and reproof are positive and negative incentives respectively. In the process of socialization of the infant all these positive and negative incentives are used by the parents and near relations like grand parents and teachers in the school.
Social learning and socialization process is influenced by incentives. Incentives goad the motives in the positive direction and change the attitude and behaviour of an individuals in a group. Appropriate social incentives improve performance while inappropriate incentives lead to decrease in efficiency.
Types of Incentives:
Various types of incentives are discussed below:
1. Reward and Punishment:
Reinforcement refers to reward and punishment by which the organisation is motivated to pursue the goal. The effect of reward and punishments as incentives in mobilising the socialization process of the individual has been experienced by everybody. The importance of reward and punishment varies with the situation. In fact, reward is always associated with the correct response.
So reward is always effective than punishment. In an experiment by Meier (1935) it was noticed that mentally retarded children improved their reading skill when money or candy were offered. Money was immediately exchanged to candy by these children. Reward and reinforcement strengthen stimulus response connection.
All social learnings are based on the theory of reinforcement, reward and punishment. Delay in reinforcement stands on the way of strengthening the stimulus response connection. Various studies have demonstrated high positive relationship between immediate reward and degree of learning. Delay in reinforcement negatively accelerates decreasing function.
Thonndike’s concept of spread up effect also puts the reinforcement theorists in an emphatic position in showing the importance and strength of reinforcement. Spread of effect holds that so strong is the reinforcement that due to the fixation of the rewarded responses, the unrewarded responses in the vicinity are strongly fixated and show strengthening by repetitions contrary to normal expectation.
2. Praise and Blame:
A comparative analysis of various experiments of the effect of praise and reproof on performance indicates that praise has a greater motivating value than blame and reproof. It is a positive incentive like reward and very much correlated with it. In a study Hurlock (1925) found that praise works as a greater reinforcement than reproof in arithmetic test. The above experiment consisted of 4 groups.
These four groups were selected on the basis of identical mean score in a test. Then the first group was praised for his performance. The second group was scolded for his poor performance, though its mean score was same as the first group.
The third group was kept as a control group and the subjects of this group were neither praised nor blamed and they had also no idea that the first group was praised while the second group was blamed. Thus the third group was not given any incentive. The fourth group remained as an ‘Ignored group’. Though this group heard about the praise and reproof to the experimental groups it did not receive any incentive.
Thereafter all the four groups were given a test to perform. Result indicated that while the third and the fourth group showed little difference in the second test, the praised group’s performance improved by 75 per cent compared to the first and the blamed group showed only 16 per cent improvement.
The critical ratio in the praised and reproofed group were statistically significant. Therefore it can be concluded that though praise and blame both work as incentive, praise works as a greater force in improving performance to blame.
Many experiments in the field and laboratory have also been conducted on the effect of knowledge of result on performance. That knowledge of result improves one’s performance is explained by several experiments. Field and laboratory studies conducted in the area of learning indicate that knowledge of previous performance motivates the workers to work efficiently and produce more.
In a particular study inspectors who learnt the element in an incidental manner, did not do as well as the inspectors who were told about their errors and defects, and who then made conscious efforts to facilitate their progress.
A day to day analysis of the experimental results on incidental and intentional learning and knowledge of results conducted by the undergraduate and post graduate psychology students also support these findings.
Without experience of progress competition would be ineffective and knowledge of result would be limited as every worker wants to know whether he is progressing or not. Usually new employees experience the progress relatively better than old employees who have already reached the level of proficiency and have very little to improve.
Thorndike’s famous Line Drawing Experiment is a classic experiment on knowledge of result. In this experiment in the controlled condition the subjects were instructed to draw lines equal to the standard line blind folded without being given any idea about their performance. However, in the experimental condition the subjects were told about their performance after every trial.
Thorndikes found that there was gradual improvement in performance because of knowledge of result while without knowledge of result performance fluctuated without any improvement.
Grindley (1938) and Elewell and Grindley (1938) conducted several studies on the effect of knowledge of result on performance and learning and concluded that knowledge of result brings improvement in performance by:
(a) Causing a tendency to repeat the actions which are successful,
(b) By a directive effect, i.e., by causing a tendency to correct in the appropriate direction any unsuccessful action, and
(c) By setting up a conscious attitude or mood which is conductive to accurate performance.
From the time of infancy praise and blame and reward and punishment have tremendous value in the process of socialization. In order to conform to various social norms, traditions, customs and values and Do’s of the society praise and blame help very effectively. When an infant puts his fingers inside his mouth and starts sucking, you ask him not to do so. If he again does, you simply take away his fingers from his mouth.
Again when he puts his fingers you try to inhibit him by saying a big ‘No’. Thus, this is a mild type of reproof from which he learns that putting his fingers inside the mouth is wrong. Similarly when an infant starts saying Baba Baba, you encourage him to say again, by means of gestures and language.
If he does so, you say very good or just you pat him or kiss him which are signs of pleasant emotions. Hence from the early periods of growth through these reinforcements the child is made a ‘social being’.