What Motivates Us To Work?

What makes people more productive and happier at work?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn’t just money. But it’s not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose. Behavioral economist +Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work.

We are driven by meaningful work, by others acknowledgement and by the amount of effort we’ve put in: the harder the task is, the prouder we are.


When we think about labor, we usually think about motivation and payment as the same thing, but the reality is that we should probably add all kinds of things to it: meaning, creation, challenges, ownership, identity, pride, etc.
  1. Seeing the fruits of our labor may make us more productive.
  2. The less appreciated we feel our work is, the more money we want to do it.
  3. The harder a project is, the prouder we feel of it.
  4. Knowing that our work helps others may increase our unconscious motivation.
  5. The promise of helping others makes us more likely to follow rules.
  6. Positive reinforcement about our abilities may increase performance.
  7. Images that trigger positive emotions may actually help us focus.

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