Eric Schmidt shared this video via Twitter, depicting the gist of Dan Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us:

I feel like it shouldn’t be such a big surprise. Maybe I’m an extreme case, but most rewards seem offensive to me — like bribes — or condescending: “Hey boy, go fetch!” They have always turned me off (and my whole project here has essentially been an attempt to understand what motivates me — i.e. “what’s wrong with me” — and how it relates to conventional styles).

So I felt a real sense of affirmation when I found Deci & Ryan’s work on intrinsic motivation a few years ago. Pink explains it in a recent interview Wired conducted with him and Clay Shirky:

Both of us cite research from University of Rochester psychologist Edward Deci showing that if you give people a contingent reward—as in “if you do this, then you’ll get that”—for something they find interesting, they can become less interested in the task. When Deci took people who enjoyed solving complicated puzzles for fun and began paying them if they did the puzzles, they no longer wanted to play with those puzzles during their free time. And the science is overwhelming that for creative, conceptual tasks, those if-then rewards rarely work and often do harm.

But I don’t think they go far enough, or deep enough, or comprehensive enough, or ambitious enough. I’ve been all over these ideas for years. The more I see and learn, the more confidently I keep returning to the concept of “will to relevance.”

It underlies almost everything I write (first described in detail here; used earlier here and here), and is at the core of the book about truth, will & relevance I published.

“Relevance” incorporates “autonomy, mastery, and purpose” onto one axis — one value we can use to effectively assess why one experience will be more motivational than another, or how likely someone is to be motivated by something.

If physicists seek a single unified theory, why not psychologists?