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Punished by Rewards

The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes
Narrated by: Alfie Kohn
Length: 13 hrs and 9 mins
5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

Non-member price: $43.66

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Publisher's Summary

The basic strategy we use for raising children, teaching students, and managing workers can be summarized in six words: Do this and you'll get that. We dangle goodies (from candy bars to sales commissions) in front of people in much the same way we train the family pet.

Drawing on a wealth of psychological research, Alfie Kohn points the way to a more successful strategy based on working with people instead of doing things to them. "Do rewards motivate people?" asks Kohn. "Yes. They motivate people to get rewards." Seasoned with humor and familiar examples, Punished by Rewards presents an argument unsettling to hear but impossible to dismiss.

©1993 Alfie Kohn (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A clear, convincing demonstration of the shortcomings of pop-behaviorism, written with style, humor, and authority." ( Kirkus)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars

Insightful, intriguing and fresh.

This is an academic book, with lots of research. If that’s not your thing, you may not enjoy it. However, I believe every person could benefit by reading this book as it contains insightful looks at parenting, teaching and managing.

The fact that it has an epilogue with updates is a bonus as well. Thank you Mr Kohn for this wonderful book.

Now, implementation is the hurdle!

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  • Natalia M
  • 09-11-2017

A must read for anyone hoping to use respectful upbringing, teaching and/or management

I read the book 7 years ago. I couldn’t agree with and support this approach any more. Rewards & punishments annihilate any chance of humans feeling motivated or moved to do things. A must read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • J. ELARIO
  • 28-04-2019

3 hours left and still no alternative to rewards

one person can tolerate hearing the same argument only so many times. no more please!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-03-2019

Changed My Perspective!

What a fascinating viewpoint on rewards. I was recommended this book and it did not disappoint. It completely changed my vision of childcare and I’ve been eagerly putting his guidance into practice- with exciting results. You suddenly become so aware of the bad habits both parents and employers own!

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  • kamal
  • 21-08-2018

Balanced, clear and practical

I will certainly use the introspection tools mentioned at the end of each chapter in my day to day life.

The book itself conveys a nice balanced ethic, individuals are given the highest respect through treating them as a reason in themselves, and therefore reasoning with them.

It is almost an incidental fact that the first half of the book is dedicated to pointing to the huge amount of evidence from both laboratory studies and real-world interventions that show the harms done by rewards; specifically framed in such a way as to be conditional. The manifold harms stem from reducing intrinsic motivation, shifting the locus of control away from the praised person, reducing the passive person's attention to a very narrow single goal orientated view and even worse the reward-giver stands to gain more by yielding unbalanced power over the praised than the praised is likely to gain from receiving the praise.

I think this book is a must-read for anybody wanting to encourage and foster mutually respectful and productive relationships with persons of any age (older or younger).

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  • Penny Willis
  • 30-07-2018

As relevant today (2018) as it was then (1993).

How sad that the evidence against reward and punishment continues to fall upon deaf ears in western society. Change can be such a slow process. Drip, drip, drip though is better than nothing.
Alfie John is a greater narrator. Entertaining, amusing and wise.

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  • Pollyanna G
  • 13-05-2018

Eye-opening and insightful evidence-based book

This is one of those books that confirms a suspicion that you can't quite articulate. I read this after reading one of Alfie Kohn's other books 'Unconditional Parenting', which I absolutely love. When it comes to parenting advice, I have learned to only trust the writings of those authors whose works are backed up by actual research, rather than solely opinion based. Alfie Kohn's books are all meticulously researched and many research studies are cited in the book. You just can't ignore the evidence that punishments and rewards are detrimental to intrinsic motivation, and have no place in the classroom, or home. I am fairly terrified at the prospect of sending my child, who has such a beautiful and natural love of learning, to school, for fear that stupid incentive programmes will gradually destroy this natural urge to learn. I am seriously considering home education as a result of reading Alfie Kohn's books among many others that address issues around how our education systems are formulated.

Having said that it's strongly evidence-based, the book is not at all dry. Alfie Kohn has an excellent sense of humour which really comes across and makes this an immensely readable book, anyone who's seen his youtube videos will know this. It's fantastic that the author himself narrates the book as his dryness really comes across.

Like 'Unconditional Parenting', I feel this book is a must-read for all parents, teachers and those with an interest in raising children, although its principles are also applied to businesses and organisations. It might be an uncomfortable read for those who have relied on punishments and rewards but it's never too late to change.

I was so happy to find this as an audiobook as I have very little time for 'actual reading' but can listen to audiobooks while working.

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  • Jen
  • 04-10-2017

Life-changing

If you have never really questioned the issue or rewards and punishments, Alfie Kohn presents a fresh look at the whole matter that might well change your entire outlook on life. He is likeable to listen to and presents a lot of evidence in a digestible way. I agree with some that it felt a little lengthy at times but I will certainly re-listen to particular chapters. I like that he doesn't pressurise an 'all or nothing' approach and urges the individual to examine their own reasons for thinking or behaving in certain ways. I am a convert and will be listening to more Alfie Kohn books.