Pi Gamma Mu Key
International Honor Society in Social Sciences
The mission of Pi Gamma Mu is to encourage and promote excellence in the social sciences and to uphold the ideals of scholarship and service.

VIEW FROM THE PODIUM

Amanda M. Wolcott graduated from my university‑‑the University of North Georgia‑‑with a B.S. degree in psychology in 2011.  While at UNG, Amanda was president of the Georgia Kappa Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu.  She is now a Ph.D. student in industrial psychology at the University of Central Florida.  At the 2011 triennial international convention, Amanda was elected to Pi Gamma Mu's international Board of Trustees for the 2011‑2014 triennial period.  Her education and insight about organizational behavior have been very useful to us as she serves as the chairman of the board's Personnel Committee.

I am turning this column over to Amanda this month, so that she may share some thought-provoking reflections about motivation.

Barry D. Friedman
International President

---

Motivation

Amanda Woolcott
Amanda Woolcott
International Student Trustee

As a student in industrial and organizational psychology, I am very curious about the matter of motivation.  Most commonly, students like me study the factors that motivate employees to work.  As I approach the end of the second year of my three‑year term of office as a student trustee, I have developed a curiosity about what motivates Pi Gamma Mu's students and volunteers.  Pi Gamma Mu's student initiates qualify for membership by having earned a grade-point average that is substantially higher than the minimum GPA to graduate.  Pi Gamma Mu's student officers take on their volunteer positions as a matter of considerateness, because they will not get paid for their service to the chapter.  Pi Gamma Mu's faculty volunteers, notably chapter sponsors, may get credit for service to the college or university, but I speculate that it has minimal effect on their salaries.

Many people assume that the biggest motivating force in their lives is extrinsic rewards such as monetary compensation.  Is this not why we go to school and learn and work hard‑‑so that we can achieve a high paying position in our careers?  Do we not go above and beyond at the office, hoping that our efforts will be recognized by management and result in a raise or promotion?  It seems obvious that the answer would be yes, considering that this is the model that our society has built to characterize success, and the one that is used by the majority of organizations in this country.  However, let us compare our intuitions with scientific discovery.

In 1962, psychologist Sam Glucksberg performed a study utilizing the candle problem to examine the effects of extrinsic reward on motivation.  The candle problem consists of a candle, a box of matches, and a thumb tack.  It challenges individuals to attach the candle to a wall and light it using only the aforementioned materials.  In this study, individuals were told either that the study wanted to find a baseline for the time it took to solve, or that the top 25 percent of speeds would receive $5 and the best time would receive $25.  If that wasn't enough, to create another dimension Glucksberg created two additional categories:  Half of the participants were given the matches in the box and half were given the box and the matches separately.  This change is significant because the solution to the problem is to tack the matchbox to the wall using the thumb tack and place the candle in the box.  When the matches are in the box, functional fixedness takes over and participants can see only the box as a repository for the matches that will light the candle, but when the matches are removed, the solution becomes more readily apparent.  So, which group do you think performed better?

Surprisingly enough, the group that had the matches in the box with no reward outperformed the group that was being rewarded.  How can this be? you ask.  Scientific observation has proven repeatedly that extrinsic rewards suppress the effect of intrinsic motivation.  Since intrinsic motivation is what allows for innovations and creativity, providing a monetary reward had a stifling effect on the creativity needed to solve this problem and complete the task.

Another interesting facet to motivation is the beneficiary of the effort.  Again, conventional wisdom tells us that individuals will be more motivated to complete a task that benefits themselves rather than one that benefits others.  And again, science disproves conventional wisdom.  A study performed by Adam Grant and David Hofmann attempted to solve the problem of physicians and nurses not washing their hands often enough in hospital settings.  Grant and Hofmann placed signs above sinks around the hospital.  Some signs read, "Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases," while other signs read, "Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases."  To measure usage and test the effectiveness of the signs, Grant and Hoffman placed hidden scales on all the soap and antibacterial-gel dispensers that had a sign.  When all was said and done, the signs that touted the benefits of hand-washing to the patients were hands-down more effective, increasing soap and gel use by 33 percent and resulting in healthcare professionals being 10‑percent more likely to wash their hands.

As you can see by these results, it is not the money or the rewards that motivate us.  Instead, it is truly the intrinsic drive borne of an enjoyment of the challenge of what we do and the concern for others that keep us going.

I challenge you today to ask yourself what motivates you, and to divine what you are passionate about.  This can be your most valuable asset in your life and your career.  The social sciences provide an excellent venue for pursuing professional service to others.  Once you discover what motivates you intrinsically, you will develop the edge needed for success in life.

Amanda M. Wolcott
International Student Trustee

NEWSLETTER E-MAIL LISTSERV SUBSCRIPTIONS

Members who receive the Pi Gamma Mu Newsletter by e-mail are subscribed to the PIGAMMAMU-L listserv based at the University of Georgia.

Click here to subscribe or unsubscribe to the Pi Gamma Mu listserv, and follow the instructions to leave or join the list.

[Read More... ]

CHANGE OF ADDRESS

Anytime you move, such as after graduation, please notify the Pi Gamma Mu office immediately. This will prevent your mailings from being interrupted or discontinued. The International Social Science Review is returned to us by the post office, which is an additional expense for the international office to absorb. Just mail a change-of-address card, post card, or letter to Pi Gamma Mu, 1001 Millington St., Suite B, Winfield, KS 67156. If you prefer, you can send an E-mail message (executivedirector@pigammamu.org), or go to our Web site (www.pigammamu.org) to change your address information. We need your name, as well as your old and new address. Thank you very much for taking a few minutes to keep your information current.

Mailing address: Pi Gamma Mu, 1001 Millington St., Suite B, Winfield, KS 67156.

OTHER ARTICLES:

Front Page: WELCOME, NEW CHAPTERS

[Read]

PI GAMMA MU SEEKS AN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

[Read more...]

PI GAMMA MU SEEKS A JOURNAL EDITOR FOR ISSR

[Read more...]

VIEW FROM THE PODIUM: MOTIVATION

[Read more...]

GET READY FOR THE 2014 TRIENNIAL INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION

[Read more...]

SHADOW PRESIDENT UPDATE

[Read more...]

"JUST DO IT"

[Read more...]

FEDERAL BENEFITS OF ACHS MEMBERSHIP

[Read more...]

DONOR RECOGNITION

[Read more...]

IDEALS OF PI GAMMA MU

[Read more...]

PDF Print Version (PDF)

©2013 Pi Gamma Mu