Are better people less likely to be motivated by money?

July 30, 2012 · Posted in Blog 

One of the debates after the opening ceremony of the London Olympics centres around the fact that the 7000 propel who performed all did so for nothing. So the question of motivation is quite striking. The UK economy has been thrown into damaging recession in large part to irresponsible behaviour by people motivated by personal profit bonuses. The London Olympics opening ceremony shows that people can do great things without such motivation. During a news discussion programme, one writer for the ceremony suggested that perhaps some people are motivated by money, but there are better people who can do better things. These people need higher motivations. The ceremony made this point with its bow to the creator of the Internet, British inventor Tim Berners-Lee, who wanted the whole world to benefit from his creation, and so gave it away for nothing.

The political philosopher Sandel, points to an interesting experiment which raises a similar question. During a fundraising event in Israel some young people are given an inspirational speech before being sent out to raise money. Others are told they will be given a portion of the total amount their raise themselves. You might expect those motivated by self reward to have been more effective at raising money. In fact, those who received a motivational talk raised far more than those who had a performance bonus.

This leads to a fascinating possibility – for human beings, belief in the virtue and value of what you are doing motivates people to do and be better than individual acquisition.

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