#243      42 min 29 sec
Carrots that stick: Rethinking pleasure and pain as human motivators

Social psychologist Prof E. Tory Higgins discusses his model of how humans interpret and appreciate reward and punishment, and offers unusual approaches to motivate people to action. Presented by Dr Dyani Lewis.

"We can motivate others by promising them pleasure or promising them pain if they don't do it. [But] there are, in fact, two completely different systems for regulating in terms of pleasure and pain. It's not that pleasure and pain don't matter, but they matter in totally different ways, depending whether you're in one system or another."




Prof E. Tory Higgins
Prof E. Tory Higgins

E. Tory Higgins is the Stanley Schachter Professor of Psychology, Professor of Business, and  Director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He is the author of Beyond Pleasure and Pain: How Motivation Works (Oxford, 2012) and co-author of Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence (Penguin, 2013). He has received the Donald T. Campbell Award for Outstanding Contributions to Social Psychology (Society of Personality and Social Psychology), the Lifetime Contribution Award (International Society for Self & Identity), the Distinguished Scientist Award (the Society of Experimental Social Psychology), the William James Fellow Award for Distinguished Achievements in Psychological Science (the American Psychological Society), and the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions. He is also a recipient of Columbia’s Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.

HigginsLab at Columbia University

Credits

Host: Dr Dyani Lewis
Producers: Eric van Bemmel, Kelvin Param, Dyani Lewis
Audio Engineer: Gavin Nebauer
Voiceover: Nerissa Hannink
Series Creators: Kelvin Param & Eric van Bemmel

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VOICEOVER
Welcome to Up Close, the research talk show from the University of Melbourne, Australia. 

DYANI LEWIS
I'm Dyani Lewis. Thanks for joining us. It's an eternal question for parents, teachers and managers the world over: how does one person go about motivating another to perform a task and to perform it well? Even on a personal level we often struggle to muster the enthusiasm to achieve the goals that we set ourselves, whether it's to exercise regularly, to answer all those emails or to learn Mandarin. The traditional answer to these motivational challenges is reward and punishment, or carrots and sticks. Bonuses, for example, can encourage employees to up their sales performance. And for children the prospect of not being permitted to go out and play ensures that homework gets done. But perplexingly, incentives and disincentives don't always work. My guest today on Up Close is here to shed some light on why motivation is about more than simple carrots and sticks. I'm joined in the studio by Professor E Tory Higgins, who has written about these topics with co-author Heidi Grant Halvorson in a 2013 book, Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence. Professor Higgins is Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, Professor of Management at Columbia Business School, and Director of the Motivation Science Center.Welcome to Up Close, Tory. 

E TORY HIGGINS
Thank you for having me.

DYANI LEWIS
Tory, where did the idea of using carrots and sticks originally come from?

E TORY HIGGINS
I mean, in the United States at least, the carrot and stick idea of incentive came from work with animals and how to motivate animals, so it was relating to what we call conditioning. It began, really, in the 1900s. And there were many famous psychologists who were studying motivation and learning who concluded in different ways that the way to motivate animals, and therefore humans, from their point of view, was the use of incentives. The famous version of that is to use incentives that promise something pleasant, if you go about and attain something, which is the carrot, or that promise that you'll avoid pain if you go about doing something. So that was really the history of that idea.

DYANI LEWIS
So it's really tapping into some animalistic urges, I guess, that people have and that are in common with animals.

E TORY HIGGINS
Yes. The interesting thing about motivation is that when psychologists and others think of motivation they think of it as something where humans evolved from other animals. And by evolve, in this case, they mean that that's where we came from. So that means we have the same motivations as other animals. Something that's always surprised me is when they think about the cognitive abilities of humans, and they think about evolution, they have a very different idea. Now it's not where we came from, but how we got better than; so it's evolved in the sense of got better. So when it comes to cognitive aspects of being human they think about what we can do that other animals can't, in terms of language and symbolism. When it comes to motivation they think we're just like other animals.

DYANI LEWIS
But obviously, humans have far more complex social structures in a lot of instances that would make motivation far different to animals.

E TORY HIGGINS
Yes. The main difference between us and other animals - and relates to, in fact, how we are different because of the way we can understand in very complex ways - is that humans are capable of something that no other animal's capable of, which is to actually infer what's going on in the inner states of others. So children - and we don't have it right away - but children, by the ages of three to five, start to be able to do something no other animal can do. They can actually infer that, let's say, their parents have certain wishes for them, have certain expectations for them, have certain goals for them, have certain demands for them. So they can actually infer these inner kinds of desires and expectations for them.

DYANI LEWIS
And this is the theory of mind, isn't it?

E TORY HIGGINS
It's very related to that. So theory of mind versions can happen even earlier, but the version of mind that has to do with someone else's wishes for you - expectations for you, hopes for you, feelings about your duties and obligations - that's a theory of mind that children can do around three to five. And that changes everything because now children will try to make decisions, make choices, regulate themselves, in ways that fit what it is that their parents want from them. And that changes everything. That is more than just carrots and sticks.

DYANI LEWIS
So your work over the years has been looking at not just the outcome of a particular goal - which may involve a reward or a punishment if the goal is not achieved - but how we value a particular goal. Could you explain how a goal's value to us makes a difference when it comes to motivation?

E TORY HIGGINS
Well, the main distinction that I've been working on is to recognise that when we emphasise carrots and sticks we're emphasising a principle of motivation that goes all the way back to the Greeks. And it's called the hedonic principle. Hedonic itself is a Greek word that means sweet. What it's emphasising is that we can motivate others by promising them pleasure or promising them pain if they don't do it. What I started working on was the idea of that's just not enough to understand motivation because there are, in fact, two completely different systems for regulating in terms of pleasure and pain. It's not that pleasure and pain don't matter, but they matter in totally different ways, depending whether you're in one system or another. The two systems that I've studied are called promotion and prevention. Promotion is a pleasure pain system where the pleasure has to do with attaining hopes and aspirations, with having ideals that you meet. What you're trying to do in promotion is you're trying to make advancement; you're trying to gain. The pleasure comes from advancement and gain and attaining your hopes and aspirations. The pain is if you don't advance, if you don't gain. So there the pleasure and pain is gain and non-gain.In prevention it's quite different. In prevention it's really about safety and security. It's about fulfilling duties and obligations. What you're trying to do is meet what other people think you ought to do. What matters in that system - what's pleasurable is if you maintain the satisfactory status quo. If you do what you ought to do - if you maintain safety and security - and so you are in a state of non-loss; everything is fine. So the pleasure there is a non-loss, and the pain is - if you make mistakes, then you're in a loss.

DYANI LEWIS
So it sounds very much like people who have a tendency toward promotion are more of the go getters in, say, a work environment; whereas prevention people are, perhaps, more happy with the status quo, as you mentioned. So is the promotion temperament inherently more successful? Or are there really pros and cons for each?

E TORY HIGGINS
There's definitely pros and cons for each, definitely benefits and costs. And there's more than one way of thinking about that. For example, if you're trying to make decisions: what you do if you're in promotion is you really want to go for hits. You want to go for gains and you don't want what's called errors of omission. You don't want to omit anything because that would be omitting a hit. In prevention, on the other hand, what you care about is correctly rejecting mistakes. What you care about in terms of errors is called errors of commission, which is where you actually take an incorrect action. The costs and benefits are well articulated there because it turns out that both of these kinds of approaches to making decisions have advantages; so there are advantages in not having errors of omission, but there's also advantages in not having errors of commission.Another example of the difference is that if you're in promotion, that's when you're more likely to be creative and innovative because you don't worry about making a mistake; you try out new things; any things are possible, gain or hit, if you try it out, so you take chances. And that's a benefit. On the other hand, if what you're doing is careful reasoning, analytical reasoning, where you make sure you stick to the rules of the logic, make sure that you maintain the premises that you begin with, that's precisely what prevention people are very good at. So these are two very advantageous things for humans, to be creative on the one hand, to have good analytical reasoning on the other, but it's different systems that actually support that. What's interesting about knowing these two systems is that there's some ways, in fact, it would be a good thing, actually, for them to work together, because if you do both at the same time then, actually, that's the best accuracy.

DYANI LEWIS
Do prevention people make any gains at all?

E TORY HIGGINS
Basically, prevention people want to maintain a satisfactory state. So they're not going to make a decision that could gain more than where they are now, as long as where they are now is satisfactory. They're not going to make a decision to try to gain more and take a chance of actually getting worse off than they are. So if there wasn't any chance of getting worse off, then I can imagine they would gain as an extra buffer, extra security. It's like at the end of a football game, maybe, trying to get extra points just to make sure that you still can win; but it's a completely different logic in that case. It really isn't done in order to make a further advancement or a further gain. It might only be done as a buffer.

DYANI LEWIS
Tory, how do you go about assessing whether someone is taking on a promotion or a prevention strategy?

E TORY HIGGINS
We have more than one method of doing that. Before I mention, I should say one thing that's important, which is that promotion and prevention are states of psychology. So it can be that an individual predominantly, or most frequently, is in promotion states, and someone else is most frequently in prevention states; so that then looks like personality. It's also the case that situations can put anybody into promotion or prevention. My favourite example is parents who are walking across the street with their two year old. No matter what, they're going to be in a prevention state. So it's important always to keep that in mind. But it is true that there are these individual differences. It's possible for someone, actually, - because it is a state - for someone to be high in promotion and high in prevention. And that can happen because when they grew up they had one parent who was very promotion. When they were with that parent they learned how to do promotion effectively. And so they have a strong system. They know how to use it. They could also have another parent that was prevention, so they learned that system as well. So these are two systems, but they are independent. It's possible to be high in both. Our measures allow us to identify those people; so it's not that we identify only someone who's strong in promotion or only someone strong in prevention. We, for each person, measure how strong are they in each. So they could be strong in both, weak in both, strong in one, weak in the other. And one of these measures is just the very short questionnaire that has only 12 questions. That questionnaire allows us to measure both promotion and prevention. 

DYANI LEWIS
What sort of questions are you asking about their upbringing or things like that; if that's an influencing factor?

E TORY HIGGINSYes, so there'd be questions that relate. Promotion will relate to how much they care about their hopes and aspirations in life. There'll be questions that get at how much they approach their goals in an eager way, because doing things in an eager way works with promotion. Prevention, similarly, there'll be some questions that relate to their sense of duties and obligations when they grew up, how much their parents emphasised that; and also questions about how careful they are, which is really being vigilant, which is what works for prevention. 

DYANI LEWIS
I'm Dyani Lewis and you're listening to Up Close. In this episode we're talking about motivation with social psychologist Professor E Tory Higgins.Tory, do these classifications tell us anything about how an individual might react when they don't achieve a particular goal?

E TORY HIGGINS
Yes. If you want to get a quick sketch of whether someone might be promotion or prevention, one of the best ways is to actually ask them how they feel when things are going really well and how they feel when things are going poorly. If that person is a strong promotion person, then they're most likely - if you say how do they feel when things go well - they'll say I really feel happy and joyful. And if you ask them how things go when things go poorly they'll say they feel sad, discouraged, disappointed. For a person who's answering the same questions but is more prevention, to the question about going well they'll say it makes me feel relieved, now I can feel a little calmer and more relaxed. If things are going poorly they'll say it makes me feel nervous, worried. So the interesting thing that we've found, in many ways, is that when you do have people who are mostly promotion or mostly prevention they end up living in different emotional worlds. Some of the most interesting things are if you have them read stories about someone - a day in the life of. They remember the parts of the story that relate to their system and don't remember the parts that don't relate to their system. If you have them just ask how happy do you feel, how relaxed to you feel, how disappointed you feel, how nervous you feel - when you present different objects to them to participate in a study. So they read an object or they see an object, and you say how happy does that feel or how nervous does that make you feel? What you find is that if you're a strong promotion person you very quickly can answer how happy you feel or how sad you feel. If you're prevention you can answer very quickly how relaxed you feel and how nervous you feel. So not only is it your own emotional life that will vary depending on whether you're promotion or prevention, but even how you emotionally react to objects in the world will vary, depending.

DYANI LEWIS
Does that mean then that if you asked, say, a promotion person how anxious they feel in relation to an object they would just be a bit oh, that doesn't even make sense as a question?

E TORY HIGGINS
Yes. It's something that they'll answer because they've been forced to answer, but they will feel it's a little odd. One of the more interesting versions of this is empathy. It turns out that when a promotion person is talking to or hearing about the emotional problem of another person who's suffering, if they're told that the suffering has to do with depression or sadness, they're very empathic about it and it seems very reasonable to them why it is that this person ended up feeling depressed and sad. If, instead, they hear about a person being anxious or really nervous about something they're not empathic. It doesn't make sense to them. They wonder why would you feel that way about it. So it plays out even at the level of whether it makes sense that other people feel a certain way about things that happen to them.

DYANI LEWIS
Our lives are often full of different tasks that we, naturally, approach in slightly different ways; some with, perhaps, more vigilance or risk aversion, and some with more eagerness. And so is our tendency towards prevention and promotion very malleable?

E TORY HIGGINS
Well, it is, in fact, the case that a situation or a particular object, a particular activity, can [poll for] a certain way of interacting with them. That's important to appreciate. It's also the case that a person who is predominantly strong promotion prefers to do things in an eager way. Someone who's prevention prefers to do things in a vigilant way. For many tasks or activities it really is possible to do either to pursue some goal, engage in an activity in either an eager or a vigilant way. Why it matters that it can also be something that another person could instruct you to do or, basically, set the conditions that you are made to do things in more of an eager way or a vigilant way - that's the kind of thing that can show up in management situations, for example. So you can have an employee who's more promotion or more prevention and you can have a manager though who sets up a task - sets up instructions for how to do something - that, basically, says I want you to do this in an eager way or a vigilant way. That can set up real problems, which we call non-fit; that there can be a non-fit between how the manager is suggesting to do the task and what would be the natural way to do the task by the employee. So you can have a prevention employee who really prefers to do things in a very careful, systematic way, caring a lot about accuracy, not caring about speed, and then you have a manager that says I want you to do this in an eager way. Eager means more speed and less accuracy. And so for the employee that's really a non-fit. That can be a problem because when you have a non-fit, then a person's engagement in what they're doing becomes weaker and they feel wrong about what they're doing. All of that can make them not value what they're doing as much. And so that's something that is important for managers to understand, but also teachers and also parents.

DYANI LEWIS
What about the task specific things? I mean there are things, as you mentioned: crossing the road with a child. Every person, no matter what their baseline tendency is, they will all approach that task in a vigilant way. In a workplace you would, presumably, have tasks that no matter who does it, it needs to be done in a vigilant way. So are there some tasks that should be incentivised in a particular way to elicit a particular type of performance from the employee?

E TORY HIGGINS
Yes. I can think of two kinds of examples. One is in sports. If someone on the team is in a defensive role it would be a good thing if they were being vigilant about it. If someone was in offensive role it would be a good thing that they were eager and trying to gain points. So a coach should understand this and make sure that the instructions they give actually fit what the position is on the field. In a management example that I was exposed to when I was teaching executives was - one of the students was a vice-president in Boeing. We'd been talking a little bit about goal pursuit and different ways of getting things done and carrots and sticks. He volunteered that they'd had a problem at some point in Boeing that the products they were producing were really not as safe as they would like them to be, or as reliable, which is the same kind of issue. They felt they had to change things. So what they tried was a carrot version. What they did was offer a bonus reward if, at the end of the year, the safety record had improved. To their surprise it was not a successful program at all. In fact, it seemed, if anything, to make things worse. So this was this classic carrot example not working. And he wasn't sure exactly why that was and what they might have done differently. This is an example where, in fact, the situation is a prevention issue. It's a safety issue, so what you want is having people who are in a prevention state who care about vigilance. And the problem is if you offer a bonus what you're really saying is that your salary is going to advance at the end of the year; that you're going to have a gain at the end of the year. That actually puts people in promotion. That makes them eager, eager for the bonus. That's the opposite of what you want. You want them to have prevention vigilance. So the question that this manager said was should we instead have punished them, threaten to punish them that if they don't have a better safety record we're going to punish them, we're going to reduce their salary?I said actually that would have been better because at least that would have been more of a prevention situation because you want a non-loss, so that is prevention. But you didn't have to do it that way. I mean there's a third alternative. The third alternative would still allow you, actually, to reward them, but the way you would do it is, instead, you'd say we have put money aside for you. It's already yours. In order to maintain it you have to improve your safety record. So now the issue is the status quo is that money in the account that's already theirs. Now they have to be vigilant in order to maintain a safety record that will allow them to have a non-loss. And we've done research on that alternative. It's a very, very successful alternative if what you want people to be is vigilant.

DYANI LEWIS
So in terms of the company though there's very little difference. It's all about framing it in the right way to elicit the right response.

E TORY HIGGINS
Correct. What I also said to businessmen since then is that this is a case where it can be the same and you change the framing. People find that really interesting. I also say it's clear, however, now that you know that what you want to do is put them in prevention, that you really don't need to spend money at all because this is not the only way to put people in prevention. You can put people in prevention by reminding them of their duties and responsibilities to their customers. Because it's a safety record, what you're talking about, potentially, is the lives of people using your products. If you're thinking about the safety and security of your customers and your duties and responsibilities to your customers, that's all prevention focus, so you don't have to put any money aside at all. So the advantage of understanding the systems is that you start to realise there doesn't even have to be incentives. So it's not only the case that it's not about carrots and sticks. It's not only the case that these are not all purpose useful motivators, because if you don't know, in fact, what systems underlie them you can actually use the wrong incentive and make things worse. The real point is that you don't need incentives at all to motivate people. That's what's really wrong with the carrots and sticks, is that it's emphasising just one small part of motivation, and sometimes the wrong part.

DYANI LEWIS
Tory, you mentioned that people have this sense of duty and obligation. Is there a way that this can be used to try and elicit a behaviour change; for example, in, say, the area of health?

E TORY HIGGINS
Yes. Actually, it turns out that this can be used very effectively in different health campaigns. It's been used for changing your diet habits so that you eat more fruits and vegetables. That's a popular one; but also that you exercise more. And the interesting thing to me is that you can do this directly by having health messages. That would be a case where you would try to make the health message fit who was receiving the message. So if you know that somebody's more promotion focused you can use the language in talking about fruits and vegetables where it sounds all very eager about eating your fruits and vegetables. And that would be a fit with a promotion audience and be more effective in getting them to change. If the audience is prevention, then you use a language that's more vigilant and careful, and that will be a fit for the prevention audience. So you can, pretty directly, in health messages, tailor it to have a language that really suits the promotion or prevention of the audience. There's another thing that people have done, which is really quite interesting. And that is it takes advantage of both promotion and prevention because if someone is currently not eating the best possible diet and are not exercising enough, what that really means is that they need to change in a positive direction; they need to make an advancement from where they are. So promotion is really the natural thing to do in those cases to get people started; because, as I was saying, everybody has a little promotion in them and a little prevention in them. Nobody's only one or the other. If you have a very strong promotion message, then for people, in general, it's still true - especially for promotion people - but for people it will be quite persuasive that they need to change from where they are; and so they need to make some advancement from where they are. That's a very effective initial message to get them going. When that is successful, then the question is what do you do to keep them going; because in a lot of these cases - as we all know, dieting is one of the most famous examples - that you can get people to get going on their diet, but it doesn't last. And that's a separate issue. It turns out, then, the best language, the best way to persuade people is prevention because once they've changed their new behaviour is the status quo. What they're doing now is what is satisfying them, so the best thing is to maintain the change, and now prevention is the best language. So now you start giving them health messages that are prevention focused. What that'll do is motivate them to keep the change. And that combination - start with promotion and then move to prevention - is a very effective way.

DYANI LEWIS
So really all of these messages need to be tailored in quite specific ways for different people, different tasks, and also then for the lifetime of that task, where they are along the journey. It's quite specific.

E TORY HIGGINS
Yes, that's exactly correct. I think that one of the models of this work is it's the fit that counts. And the word fit turns out to be a really useful word in this case because when you say it's the fit that counts, fit also captures the notion of tailoring, so you tailor to fit. So you tailor to fit the person that you're trying to influence. You tailor to fit the particular activity and you tailor to fit what phase you're in during the goal pursuit; so it's all about tailoring to fit. The good news is that it can be learned quite easily, I mean, this system: how promotion works, how prevention works. How to make something fit for people and activities is something that is very learnable and, therefore, can increase people's effectiveness in influencing other people, getting them motivated, as well as motivating yourself, so you're more successful.

DYANI LEWIS
I'm Dyani Lewis. My guest today is social psychologist, Professor E Tory Higgins. We're talking about motivation, here on Up Close.Tory, it seems that with whatever task someone is set to do, whether or not they actually care about that task is going to be a central component of how motivated they are to complete the task. Can you use the notion of fit to increase someone's enthusiasm for a task?

E TORY HIGGINS
Well, you can definitely do that. We've done research that's equivalent to the homework assignment. This was done with undergraduates. It was for real. It wasn't a laboratory experiment. They knew that if they did an extra paper over a particular weekend that they would get extra points in the course. And that's certainly motivating for a lot of students. Nonetheless, it doesn't necessarily happen. So the question is could you improve the likelihood that they would actually complete it and return it on time? And in this study what we did is just, again, take advantage of fit. So we were able to measure whether the student was more promotion or more prevention. And then they got different instructions of what to do over the weekend so that, for all of them, they thought about how they would make it happen: when they would write the paper, where they would write the paper, that kind of thing. In one case we talked about how to implement it all in eager language, and the other case all in vigilant language.

DYANI LEWIS
When you say all in eager language, is that meaning to say that you tried to make it fun for them, or something else?

E TORY HIGGINS
It's more - in this case - basically, using the language for eager would be making sure you attain a positive, and vigilant would be to avoid a negative. So in this case it would be think about where you would do it so that it would be highly likely that you would really be able to get it done. That's the eager language. The vigilant language is try to think of a place where you would do it where it's unlikely that you would fail to get it done. So it's that kind of are you trying to do it where you can get a gain, or do it where you can get a non-loss; where you can succeed versus not fail. We found that if you used the gain, eager, succeed language for promotion people, which was a fit, and you used the not loss, not fail language for the prevention people, which is a fit - compared to the other non-fit - the likelihood that you would return, in fact, on time - the paper - was over 40 per cent more. So this was a very large effective fit. Another way to look at this is could fit even change the monetary value of something? How much value effect could fit really have? In one of our studies we tested this with respect to people choosing between either having a coffee mug that was from Columbia - and they were Columbia students so that was a really good thing - versus some pen, which was an inexpensive pen. We set it up that way because we wanted everybody to end up choosing the coffee mug. And what our question was -  is when they were then given a chance to actually buy it - so they were told they could buy it with their own money - as [Aconis] would say, this was not cheap talk, this was for real. The question is would they actually offer more money for exactly the coffee mug if the way they made it was a fit with their promotion or prevention system? In this case we had students who were more promotion or more prevention themselves. Then we varied, experimentally, how they made the choice. In one case they made the choice in an eager way. We did that by saying now, before you make your choice think about what you would gain if you were to choose the coffee mug; think about what you would gain if you were to choose the pen. And that's an eager way to make the choice. That would fit promotion, but not fit prevention. In the other condition we had a vigilant way of making the choice. So we asked them, before you make your choice think about what you would lose by not choosing the coffee mug; think what you would lose by not choosing the pen. So now it's about non-loss. It's a vigilant way of making the choice. As I say, it's a very dominant choice, meaning that everybody's going to, basically, choose the coffee mug. Now they have a chance to buy it with their own money. Those who were in those fit conditions - the promotion, who did it in the eager way and the prevention, who did it in a vigilant way - compared to the other two non-fit conditions - which would be promotion vigilant or prevention eager - those in the fit condition offered 80 per cent more money to buy the mug, 80 per cent. As I've often said, I think that started a little bit of a small business in marketing departments because they refer to this as creating value out of thin air. They became very, very interested in how you can use fit to create the monetary value from nothing.

DYANI LEWIS
So just make people make a decision in a way that seems right to them and they're willing to value their product more.

E TORY HIGGINS
Exactly, yes. That kind of phenomenon has now been showed, literally, hundreds of times; all kinds of different products that if you simply changed the way in which people made the choice, then that choice, to them, will have much greater monetary value.

DYANI LEWIS
Fascinating. What happens in a relationship where one person might have a tendency towards promotion and the other one a tendency towards prevention?

E TORY HIGGINS
That's a really good question. We've done a fair amount of research on this. It turns out that early on in a relationship it's critical that a couple agree on what their goals are. So that's a starting point. If you can't agree on the goals, then there's going to be a lot of conflict. In that case it's very important that there be a real similarity between the couple. Let's call them husband and wife because the most interesting cases are long term relationships. It could be husband and husband and wife and wife, but we've mostly studied husband and wife. So it turns out that in the beginning that is a necessary condition that they agree on the goals. But then something very interesting happens. Once they agree on their goal, now what they need to do is figure out how to carry out the goal. And what we've discovered is that it's a real advantage for couples if one member of the couple has a strong promotion focus and the other member has a strong prevention focus. The reason for that is that most goals that husbands and wives are working on are actually the kind of thing that's complex enough that it makes sense to have a division of labour, so you can divide up the job.  So if you're making dinner together there are different parts of the task of making dinner, in terms of getting the recipe and following the recipe, and making sure the heat is right and you have the right oil and the timing is right. That's one part of it.There's other parts of it that have more to do with trying out a new sauce, trying out different flavours. So when the couple's working together what they can do is actually divide up the labour so that the parts that are naturally more vigilant can be given to the prevention member of the couple and the parts that are naturally more eager can be giving to the promotion member. So the promotion member can do the saucier, eager, creative stuff, and the prevention one can make sure the recipe's basically followed in terms of things like the heat and getting things out before they're burned. What that does, in fact, is allow them to each get exactly what they want to do that fits who they are; so the promotion person gets the eager fit and the prevention gets the vigilant fit. They both feel right about what they're doing. They feel really engaged. And not only does that make them feel good, but it also makes them love the activity and - here's the good news - love each other because now they're so strongly engaged in what they're doing, it intensifies their attraction to the activity and to each other. So it's a very positive thing. And what we've found in longitudinal studies is that long term relationship - there's much more marital satisfaction in couples where one of them is promotion and one of them is prevention. So it turns out that complementarity in this case is a really good thing. We found the same thing in business teams, management teams; that having some complementarity, having one person promotion and one prevention, is actually better for the team, for much the same reason. 

DYANI LEWIS
So relationships are a very real world example of how these theories can come into play. Do you have any other examples?

E TORY HIGGINS
Yes, actually. So one of the most interesting ones to me is how it's shown up in sports and performance, in different kinds of venues and sports. My favourite, maybe, is the study that was done on penalty shots, shootouts, in football, or soccer as they would say in America.  As we all know, when you get to the top professional teams a lot of games are actually decided in the shootout; so this is a very serious training that is needed. In this study this team - that was a professional team in Germany - they allowed the study to be done. The first thing that happened is that they were able to measure whether the players were more promotion or more prevention. And then they did an experiment.The actual penalty shootout coach agreed to give the players different instructions just before the shootout. Each player had five shots and there were two conditions. One condition was really of an eager condition. So the coach said in this shootout I'd like you to try to gain at least three points. In another condition - which was random, in this case, in terms of what instructions they got - the same coach said in this shootout what I'd like you to do is not to miss more than two. So, basically, those are the same instruction, but one's just framed in more of an eager way or a vigilant way. Then they had the shootout. Again, the fit would be the promotion receiving the eager gain instructions from the coach, and the prevention receiving the vigilant don't miss instructions. The difference in the shootout was a full point. To me, that's really incredible because when I think about these professional players, you say they're as motivated as they could possibly be. I mean who's more motivated than these professional players? In addition, who's more skilled than them? How could you possibly change something like a shootout just by fit? But in fact, it did.

DYANI LEWIS
That's incredible.

E TORY HIGGINS
It's being used now - at least this professional team.

DYANI LEWIS
We've spoken a lot about how to motivate others. What about motivating ourselves? Do these principles still hold - and if we know about what our own tendencies are can we use those principles on ourselves?

E TORY HIGGINS
That's an excellent question. And the answer is yes, we definitely can. What you can do, I think, that's best is not necessarily to try to persuade yourself with a message, although you could do that. If you're promotion you could say I need to think eager, I need to think eager; but more to do with the task. We've talked about tailoring to task. So what would be important is to realise that right now this task is really something where being more creative would be a good thing, being more innovative would be a good thing. And I know I'm a prevention person, so right now that's not going to work for me. What I've got to do is get more into promotion, and the way to do that is to think of this as something I really want to accomplish, something that I really hope I do well on this; think about that; then that will put me more into promotion; that will increase the eagerness and that will be better for the task. So I would argue that for the individual what you want to do is think about the activity that you're doing. Then make sure that you're in the focus that really is tailored to that. 

DYANI LEWIS
That's great advice. Professor E Tory Higgins, thank you for being my guest today on Up Close and talking about your work on motivation.

E TORY HIGGINS
Thank you.

DYANI LEWIS
E Tory Higgins is Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, Professor of Management at Columbia Business School, and Director of the Motivation Science Center. Relevant links, a full transcript and more info on this episode can be found on our website at upclose.unimelb.edu.au. Up Close is a production of the University of Melbourne, Australia. This episode was recorded on 26 March 2013. Producers were Kelvin Param, Kelvin Param, Eric van Bemmel and myself, Dyani Lewis. Audio engineering by Gavin Nebauer. Up Close is created by Eric van Bemmel and Kelvin Param. Until next time, goodbye.

VOICEOVER
You've been listening to Up Close. We're also on Twitter and Facebook. For more info visit upclose.unimelb.edu.au. Copyright 2013, the University of Melbourne. 


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