Reward and Punishment and Power of Unconscious Mind

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Published: 24th November 2014
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Reward and Punishment Myth

Our basic strategy for raising children or motivating employees is a 'reward and punishment'. We have created our Santa Clauses that carefully observe what we do and that appear from heavens to deliver gifts for ‘the good’ ones or to punish the ‘bad ones’. Manipulating children and employees with incentives seems to be working in the short run, it is a strategy that ultimately fails, it turns play into work, and work into drudgery.

Praise frequently becomes a judgment and a kind of bribe as the child or the employee must ‘earn’ the points by doing the ‘right’ thing. If we instead use encouragement, we give our support for the effort, whether or not one is doing well. With such an attitude we do not take the person out of the zone where s/he feels accepted and capable.

Unfortunately, any punishment causes either physical, emotional or social pain and it causes confusion, anger, or guilt. Many children developmental professionals will advise us not to put lot of emphasis to out young children's bad behaviors.

Studying the Brain

Dr Eveline Crone, a Dutch neuro-scientist, studied children age 8-12, giving them a computer task and observed their brains' activity using fMRI when they are given a positive, rewarding feedback (a check for well done), and when they are given a cross (punishment for not understanding the rule). It is not surprising that the performance of the younger children improved substantially more when the feedback was positive. What is amazing is that their brains scarcely responded at all to the negative feedback. Older children and adults reacted a bit more on the negative feedback during the experiment, but this fact makes us wonder do we condition our brains to re-act in a particular way to 'win' in a short-term, and makes us ponder about the long term consequences of such brain conditioning.

Reward and punishment study went wrong

A scary psychological study that researched awards and punishment methods and that went horribly wrong happened at the University of Iowa, in 1939, with 22 orphaned children, 10 with stutters. The children were separated into two groups: one with a speech therapist who conducted "positive" therapy by praising their efforts; the other with a speech therapist who openly chastised the children for their mistakes. The results showed that the children who received negative feedback were badly affected during and following the experiment that lasted 6 months, so much so that in 2007, six of them were awarded $925,000 in compensation for psychological damage they suffered.

Are we what we believe we are?

What we think and what we believe we are, are the two main things that decide whether we will succeed or not in our projects in life. Our unconscious mind is responsible for all sorts of illusions. Our unconscious mind is to blame for the phenomenon of the placebo effect (a sugar pill effect). When we believe that a certain procedure or medication is effective, we increase the efficacy of that procedure or medication by 50- 60%.

Often, our behavior is shaped by subtle pressures around us, but we do not recognize those pressures. According to ‘Self-perception theory’ people decide on their own likes and dislikes from watching themselves behave in various situations. We assume our sense of who we are from our behavior.

Just imagine an example of a very young child that in a grocery store steals a candy bar. Let's say that the kid gets caught, and the parents make a big deal about it. The child may then think of himself as a thief. This may become the child's self perception and it may become an unfortunate prophecy.

C.S. Lewis said: ‘We are what we believe we are.’
Or we might be what we pretend to be...

A social psychologist Philip Zimbardo, in 1971, used a group of students to take part in a two week long experiment called The Prison. The students have agreed to create a Prison like environment and to live as prisoners and guards in a mock prison rooms. The results were very disturbing. Ordinary students turned into sadistic guards and spineless prisoners, becoming deeply emotionally involved within their roles, that after just six days, Zimbardo had to end the experiment.

Developing Emotional Intelligence

Helping our children develop emotional intelligence and foster long lasting self-esteem, we help them prepare for the future. The self-perception is followed by the future behavior. If our children are to become happy, confident, and in love with the Lady Knowledge, we need to support them in their search for truth, for beauty, and wonder towards creation. Developing Emotional Intelligence, we help them become eager, creative, and enthusiastic individuals.

Self Development Journey is a most amazing Journey we will ever embark on. It never ends and it is always successful because an invisible driver (our soul) directs the Journey. Our commitment to grow as spiritual beings is always beautifully rewarded - Check our Free Online Personal Development Articles

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