“But that doesn’t answer the question: does money actually demotivate? Some have argued it does, that there is a natural tension between extrinsic and intrinsic motives, and that financial rewards can ultimately depress or “crowd out” intrinsic goals (e.g., enjoyment, sheer curiosity, learning or personal challenge).

Despite the overwhelming number of laboratory experiments carried out to evaluate this argument — known as the overjustification effect — there is still no consensus about the degree to which higher pay may demotivate. However, two articles deserve particular consideration.

The first is a classic meta-analysis by Edward Deci and colleagues. The authors synthesized the results from 128 controlled experiments. The results highlighted consistent negative effects of incentives — from marshmallows to dollars — on intrinsic motivation. These effects were particularly strong when the tasks were interesting or enjoyable rather than boring or meaningless.

More specifically, for every standard deviation increase in reward, intrinsic motivation for interesting tasks decreases by about 25%. When rewards are tangible and foreseeable (if subjects know in advance how much extra money they will receive) intrinsic motivation decreases by 36%. (Importantly, some have argued that for uninteresting tasks extrinsic rewards — like money — actually increase motivation. See, for instance, a meta-analysis by Judy Cameron and colleagues.) Deci et al’s conclusion was that “strategies that focus primarily on the use of extrinsic rewards do, indeed, run a serious risk of diminishing rather than promoting intrinsic motivation” (p. 659).”

Notice the observation above: Extrinsic incentives places intrinsic motivation at risk.  Stepping outside the context of money but still on the same extrinsic/intrinsic observation…have you ever thought, “I am held so accountable (extrinsic) to completing a task or achieving my goals that I  don’t remember choosing to work this hard?”

Question: In this context, “what is burn out”?  Please post your thoughts.