Overjustification Learning

Overjustification learning, which is basically learning in response to extrinsic motivation, occurs when a person is learning a task in response to a promise of reward such as money, prizes, or recognition. Most of us probably remember when a teacher might occasionally reward memorizing a poem (or some other school task) with candy or some other treat. As adults, our primary motivation to work is to receive a paycheck. Sometimes we will also work at or study other things in exchange for a certificates, diplomas, or a bonus. While this type of learning may be useful for an occasional task it undermines the function of learning for its own sake (which is intrinsic motivation.) This manner of learning is controversial in that the use of external rewards decreases intrinsic motivation for learning and, according to the theory of self-perception, eventually undermines an individual's motives for learning.

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