"The New Neuroscience of Choking" (via Dave Pell's NextDraft)
Instead of being excited by their future riches, the subjects were fretting over their possible failure. What’s more, the scientists demonstrated that the most loss-averse individuals showed the biggest drop-off in performance when the stakes were raised. In other words, the fear of failure was making them more likely to fail. They kept on losing because they hated losses.
Such results should probably make us rethink the role of incentives in the workplace. Although we assume that there’s a simple, linear relationship between financial rewards and productivity—that’s why Wall Street gives its best employees huge bonuses—such rewards can backfire, especially when the task is difficult, or requires expertise.
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