Intrinsic Motivation in a Gift Box

Do you call this work? Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?

—Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer, 1876)

Tom Sawyer was a motivation genius. Masterfully reframing a chore that his aunt obliged him to complete, he was able to engineer the situation in his favor, so that his pals felt compelled to pitch in. He may have been unaware of the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, but his creator, Mark Twain, endowed him with the intuitive instinct to understand how to manipulate his classmates into contributing their time and effort to his assignment. The icing on the cake was that they were willing to part with some of their treasured possessions for the privilege of taking part in the ...

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