Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 1993 - Psychology - 398 pages
31 Reviews
An acclaimed author and lecturer indicts the practice of manipulating people with external incentives. Drawing on a wealth of psychological research, Kohn points the way to a more successful strategy based on working with people instead of doing things to them. An argument unsettling to hear but impossible to dismiss.

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Repetitive, but well-worth slogging through to get the persuasive point firmly fixed in one's brain. Kohn is a bit light on alternatives to praise (I refer people to "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk," which offers many concrete ways to offer both praise and criticism) but his research-laden effort to counteract our cultural addiction to incentives and rewards is laudable and much-needed. I was inspired enough by reading this old book (borrowed from a friend) that I took his latest one, "The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing" out of the library, but then ran out of steam and returned it unread. Will have to read that for real once I am ready to digest more of his earnest, pedantic detailing of notions that make perfect sense to me but are inexplicably counter to the prevailing wisdom.  

Review: Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A'S, Praise and Other Bribes

User Review  - Kristen Hovet - Goodreads

A life-changer. This has changed my perspective on parenting, counselling, teaching, and being the subject of so many incentive programs and extrinsic motivators. Well-written and clear, with compelling arguments and research overviews. Read full review


Is It Right to Reward?
Is It Effective to Reward?
The Praise Problem

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About the author (1993)

Alfie Kohn was described by "Time" as "the country's most outspoken critic of education's fixation on grades & test scores." The author of the influential "No Contest" & "Punished by Rewards," he writes & speaks widely about human behavior, education, & social theory. He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts.

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