A lightning talk giving a very simple overview of how people are motivated.
by Nicolas McCurdy
Types of Motivation
Intrinsic Motivation: powered by personal reward
● Not typically affected by external rewards.
● Can be increased through praise.
● Can be decreased by external rewards that are too
Extrinsic Motivation: powered by wanting to receive
reward or avoid punishment
The Candle Problem
Your goal is to light the candle
without dripping wax onto the table.
The Candle Problem: Solution
● Melt the candle partially and
try to adhere it to the wall.
● Tack the candle directly to the
Put the candle in the box and
tack the box to the wall.
The Candle Problem: Research
Participants were paid different amounts of money as
reward for solving the problem successfully.
● The task was easier when the tacks were not inside the
● The more people were paid, the less they succeeded!
The Candle Problem and Motivation
Functional Fixedness: "[A] mental block against using an
object in a new way that is required to solve a problem."
- Karl Duncker
The Overjustification Effect: An external incentive can
decrease the intrinsic motivation to perform a task.
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