For what do you do the things you do? Money, prestige and meaning, it is the balance of these three pillars that bring us success. We work for the paycheck, but if it doesn’t bring us meaning then no amount is enough. We work for prestige to gain influence and open up new doors of opportunity, usually at the sacrifice of money. The starving artist knows what it means to work for meaning. But understanding our incentives is easy when we consider our obligations. Obligations don’t always align with the meaning we want from life. But meaning is a trap we can’t steal the bait off of without getting stuck.

SLP Take away

Understanding incentives is what enables us to motivate our clients to achieve the things we want them to.

By exploring incentives, we can understand context. How many times have you gotten a client that won’t do anything unless you directly give them something? This is often what makes client’s difficult, the fact that they only do certain things at certain times with the right incentive. If the goal is to get data, then the reinforcer that they perform for is the best choice, especially for mileage. The problem comes when the client isn’t just context compliant but incentive compliant.

I have had countless students that will jump through hoops for a fruit snack, but without that as an incentive, they will be completely content to do nothing. But worse, I simply become the fruit snack guy. They will do the task, get the reward then leave without generalizing the skill.

Intrinsic motivation is when the client sees the value in the skill you are teaching them, and they become a motivated to learn.

When this happens, the reinforcer is the bridge, not the context that brings about change.

Incentives are a way of opening new paths to achieve balance. As we level up, the incentives may change, but the goal is always the same: to master the skills of the new domain... hopefully without a fruit snack.. well maybe at the end… if you do good work.

Matthew CriscuolaComment