Persuasion strategies by Cialdini (why is punishment not there?)

Persuasion strategies by Cialdini (why is punishment not there?)

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Cialdini is famous for his book "Influence" where he talks about various ways to get people to do things you want them to. They are:

  • reciprocation
  • commitment/consistency
  • scarcity
  • authority
  • liking
  • social proof

Should not punishment be included? Or are there soft/hard ways of persuasion, or perhaps short-term/long-term distinction?

I considered maybe punishment is part of authority, but do all forms of authority have additional power to punish? I don't think so. Some are just empty titles/positions. In addition, non-authority figures also have the power to punish, even if it's not legitimized, and as a result an abusive parent or child, or a bully or someone wielding a knife can punish you if you don't do what they say. In addition, the effects of or threat of punishment itself can also last a long time, like many other persuasion/influence strategies.

Briefly looking at an article summarizing Cialdini's viewpoints ("The Science and Practice of Persuasion", 2001, free pdf; doi link), he does not include threats of punishment under "authority". By "authority", Cialdini means the status of the influencer, such as being recognized as an expert on the subject-matter.

As far as I can tell, in his book, Cialdini barely tackles punishment directly. The most detailed passage dealing with punishment (as a strategy) seems to be one one child rearing, and even this occurs in a footnote:

The occurrence of the Romeo and Juliet effect should not be interpreted as a warning to parents to be always accepting of their teenagers' romantic choices. New players at this delicate game are likely to err often and, consequently, would benefit from the direction of an adult with greater perspective and experience. In providing such direction, parents should recognize that teenagers, who see themselves as young adults, will not respond well to control attempts that are typical of parent-child relationships. Especially in the clearly adult arena of mating, adult tools of influence (preference and persuasion) will be more effective than traditional forms of parental control (prohibitions and punishments). Although the experience of the Montague and Capulet families is an extreme example, heavy-handed restrictions on a young romantic alliance may well turn it clandestine, torrid, and sad.

So he does include punishment at least under "parental control"… which I don't know where exactly it fits in Cialdini's ontology. Cialdini's book is very narrative with a lot of anecdotes, but he does not engage in a lot of systematization (beyond the chapter-level one which you've mentioned in your question). But from that passage he does seem to consider persuasion as not encompassing punishment. This is a fairly purist view, as I further detail below from the (review) perspective of other authors.

You are correct that other authors (in contrast) do consider punishment as form of persuasion, particularly in legal contexts. Quoting the SEP page on legal punishment:

However, an obvious and crucial question faces any such justification of punishment as a communicative enterprise. Censure can be communicated through a formal conviction in a criminal court; or it could be communicated by some further formal denunciation issued by a judge or some other representative of the legal community, or by a system of purely symbolic punishments which were burdensome only in virtue of their censorial meaning. It can, of course, also be communicated by 'hard treatment' punishments of the kinds imposed by our courts - by imprisonment, by compulsory community service, by fines and the like, which are burdensome independently of their censorial meaning (on 'hard treatment', see Feinberg 1970): but why should we choose such methods of communication, rather than methods that do not involve hard treatment (see Christie 1981: 98-105)? Is it because they will make the communication more effective (see Falls 1987; Primoratz 1989; Kleinig 1991)? But why is it so important to make the communication effective - and is there not a serious danger that the hard treatment will conceal, rather than highlight, the moral censure it should communicate (see Mathiesen 1990: 58-73)?

One sort of answer to this question explains penal hard treatment as an essential aspect of the enterprise of moral communication itself. Punishment, on this view, should aim not merely to communicate censure to the offender, but to persuade the offender to recognise and repent the wrong he has done, and so to recognise the need to reform himself and his future conduct, and to make apologetic reparation to those whom he wronged. His punishment then constitutes a kind of secular penance that he is required to undergo for his crime: its hard treatment aspects, the burden it imposes on him, should serve both to assist the process of repentance and reform, by focusing his attention on his crime and its implications, and as a way of making the apologetic reparation that he owes (see Duff 2001, 2011; see also Garvey 1999, 2003; Tudor 2001; Bennett 2008; for a sophisticated discussion see Tasioulas 2006). This type of account faces serious objections (see Bickenbach 1988; Ten 1990; von Hirsch 1999; Bagaric and Amarasekara 2000; von Hirsch and Ashworth 2005, ch. 7): in particular that it cannot show penal hard treatment to be a necessary aspect of a communicative enterprise which is still to respect offenders as responsible and rational agents who must be left free to remain unpersuaded; that apologetic reparation must be voluntary if it is to be of any real value; and that a liberal state should not take this kind of intrusive interest in its citizens' moral characters.

From that I gather that it is controversial whether punishment can be considered true persuasion though, i.e. some other authors disagree.

I suspect that in psychological terms, those who argue for punishment as persuasion are behaviorists, in that they don't care what's going on in the mind of the punished as long as the desired outcome (e.g. non reoffending) happens. On the other hand, cognitivists would probably argue that if the outcome does not also include the target internalizing/adopting the viewpoint (that is being communicated) then it is not actual persuasion, but mere compliance-- a sort of machiavellian behavior basically. An exam flashcard says:

What is the difference between persuasion and compliance gaining?

Persuasion is a change in attitudes, beliefs and values whereas compliance gaining is focused on changing behavior, getting someone to do what you want.

That's probably based on some intro 101 book. The research monograph by Seiter and Gass (Perspectives on Persuasion) has a three-page table with definitions of persuasion by various authors… and they don't really agree. Seiter and Gass have their own view (of course):

Our position is that many of the definitional vagaries can be clarified, if not resolved. by focusing on two considerations. The first is whether a given scholar or researcher is attempting to define "pure" persuasion- what Simons (1986) and O'Keefe (1990) have labeled "paradigm" cases of persuasion-versus all of persuasion, including its periphery. which we term "borderline" cases of persuasion, By pure persuasion. we refer to clear-cut cases on which almost all scholars in communication and related disciplines would agree. As examples. nearly everyone would include a presidential debate, a television commercial. or an attorney's closing remarks to a jury as instances of persuasion. Other instances. though, lie closer to the boundary of what we normally think of as persuasion. Not everyone would agree that a derelict's mere appearance "persuades" passersby to keep their distance. Nor would everyone agree that when city planners install speed bumps on a street where speeding is common. they are "persuading" motorists to slow down. Such cases are less clear-cut. Much of the disparity in definitions. then. is rooted in the fact that some scholars and researchers are concerned with "pure" persuasion. whereas others are concerned with borderline cases as well.

Comparing this summary with the passage from Cialdini's book I cited in the beginning, it seems clear enough to me Cialdini was/is preferring (or at least implicitly using) a "pure" definition of persuasion.

Seiter and Gass also have a textbook (with a similar title but less research oriented), which repeats their view form their monographs, augmented with a pretty illustration (well, the illustration is present in the monograph as well):

As you can see the "coercive" form of persuasion, which would include punishment (or at least the threat thereof) is in the borderline bin/area. And in the textbook they further drive that point with a cartoon:

accompanied by an elaboration that coercion and persuasion lie on a continuum, and that pure forms are rarely encountered in everyday life experiences:

we would suggest that most influence attempts we encounter in daily life include both persuasive and coercive elements. Rarely in life is one free to make a a completely unfettered choice. There are almost always strings attached. This is particularly true of face-to-face encounters. If a friend asks to borrow 20 bucks, we can say "no," but there may be relational consequences for declining.

Rarely, too, are influence attempts completely coercive. For example, holding a gun to another person's head would seem to be an obvious example of coercion. We readily admit that this situation is primarily coercive. But what if the victim doesn't believe the gun is loaded? Or what if the victim thinks the threatener is bluffing? To be successful, a thread--even a threat of violence--must be perceived as credible. Thus, even in what might see like a clear-cut case of coercion there are persuasive elements at work. And conversely, even in what appear to be cut-and-dried cases of persuasion, there may be coercive features operating. In out view, the isn't so much whether a situation is persuasive or coercive as how persuasive or coercive the situation is. [emphasis in original].

Prisons are good for punishing criminals and keeping them off the street, but prison sentences (particularly long sentences) are unlikely to deter future crime. Prisons actually may have the opposite effect: Inmates learn more effective crime strategies from each other, and time spent in prison may desensitize many to the threat of future imprisonment.

See Understanding the Relationship Between Sentencing and Deterrence for additional discussion on prison as an ineffective deterrent.

UHV Social Psychology - Harrington Exam #2, Study Set

Social Facilitation- early example
• Triplett (1898)
- Cycle 32.6 mph when competing against each other
- Cycle 31 mph when paced by another cyclist - Cycle 24 mph when racing alone
Social- Harrington
Social Facilitation
• Zajonc et al. (1969) roach study
- Simple maze task vs. complex maze task
- Audience of roaches vs. no audience
- Results
• On simple task did better with audience than without audience
• On complex task did better with no audience than with an audience
Social- Harrington

Social Facilitation
- Explanation- the presence of the audience creates arousal which increases the likelihood of the dominant response
- Since the simple response is the dominant response, they did better when aroused by the audience on the simple task
- The arousal interfered with the ability to do well on the complex task
Social- Harrington
Social Facilitation
• Explanations for arousal
- Alert- presence of others in same species makes more alert. May need to respond to others. Thus it increases arousal.
- Evaluation apprehension in humans- presence of experts increases arousal.
- Distraction- Baron (1986) found that flashing light created the same social facilitation as presence of other people
Social- Harrington

Social Facilitation- Word Association Task
• Dominant responses in a word association task
- blue-sky
- clean-dirty
• Non-dominant responses in a word association task
- blue-rutabaga
- clean-discombobulating
Social- Harrington
Social Facilitation- Word Association Task
• Must memorize the words in the word association task
• On dominant word association task do better with audience present than with audience absent
• On non-dominant word association task do better with audience absent than with audience present
Social- Harrington

Social Loafing
• Tendency of a person to engage in less effort in a group task than when working alone.
• French agricultural engineer Max Ringelman (1913) was the first to study this phenomenon
- Group of men pulled on a rope, each man exerted less effort than when alone
Social- Harrington
Social Loafing
• Latane et al. (1979)
- Men subjects
- Blindfolded and wore headphones so they could not hear others
- The task was to make as much noise as possible
- When the subject was alone, he made the most noise
Social- Harrington

Social Loafing
• Latane et al. (1979) continued
- Dyads made 66% of the noise of alone condition
- Six-person group made 36% of the noise of alone condition
Social- Harrington
Social Loafing
• Reasons
- Free-rider effect
• Contribute less because expect other group members to pick up the slack
- Sucker effect
• Contribute less because feel that other group members will not contribute a fair effort
Social- Harrington

Social Loafing
• Who are more likely to social loaf, men or women?
• Men
- Karan and Willims (1993) reviewed over 150 studies
• Why?- women more collective in orientation and men more individualistic. Therefore, women more interested in group outcome. Social- Harrington
Social Loafing
• How to decrease social loafing
- Make individual contributions more identifiable
• In Latane study, when told individual contributions would be identifiable, efficiency rates in groups climbed to 95%
- Large groups should be broken down into smaller groups
Social- Harrington

• "The loosening of normal constraints on behavior when people are in a crowd, leading to an increase in impulsive and deviant acts."
Social- Harrington
• Mullen (1986)
- Content analysis of 60 newspaper accounts of lynching in U.S. between 1899 and 1946
• "More people in mob more savage the acts" • Watson (1973)
- Twenty four cultures
- The more the warriors hid their identities with body paint, the more likely they were to kill, torture or mutilate prisoners
Social- Harrington

Social Groups
• Tend to range from 2 to 6 members
• Tend to be alike in gender, beliefs, and age
• Explanations for why they are alike on these characteristics
- Attract similar others to join
- Conformity pressure once the person joins
Social- Harrington
Roles in Groups
• Shared expectations
• Zimbardo study (1973)
- Hypothesis that social roles will overpower individual identities
- Mock prison for 2 weeks
- Flip coin to decide who will be guards and who will be prisoners
Social- Harrington

What Motivates Employees More: Rewards or Punishments?

When we attempt to motivate people, we try to elicit an anticipation of pleasure by promising rewards (a bonus, a promotion, positive feedback, public recognition), or we try to warn of the pain of punishment (a demotion, negative feedback, public humiliation). But what’s not always clear is: Which should we be using — the promise of carrots or the threat of sticks? And when? Neuroscience suggests that when it comes to motivating action, rewards may be more effective than punishments. And the inverse is true when trying to deter people from acting — in this case, punishments are more effective.

The 18th-century polymath Jeremy Bentham once wrote, “Pain and pleasure govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think.” Modern neuroscience strongly supports Bentham’s intuition. The brain’s limbic system, which is important for emotion and motivation, projects to the rest of the brain, influencing every aspect of our being, from our ability to learn, to the people we befriend, to the decisions we make.

It is not surprising, then, that when we attempt to motivate people, we try to elicit an anticipation of pleasure by promising rewards (for example, a bonus, a promotion, positive feedback, public recognition), or we try to warn of the pain of punishment (a demotion, negative feedback, public humiliation). But what’s not always clear is: Which should we be using — the promise of carrots or the threat of sticks? And when?

A study conducted at a New York state hospital provides some answers. The goal of the study was to increase the frequency by which medical staff washed their hands, as sanitization in medical settings is extremely important for preventing the spread of disease. The medical staff is repeatedly made aware of this, and warning signs about the consequences of unsanitized hands are often placed alongside sanitization gel dispensers. Yet cameras installed to monitor every sink and hand sanitizer dispenser in the hospital’s intensive care unit revealed that only 10% of medical staff sanitized their hands before and after entering a patient’s room. This was despite the fact that the employees knew they were being recorded.

Then an intervention was introduced: An electronic board was placed in the hallway of the unit that gave employees instant feedback. Every time they washed their hands the board displayed a positive message (such as “Good job!”) and the current shift’s hand-hygiene score would go up. Compliance rates rose sharply and reached almost 90% within four weeks, a result that was replicated in another division in the hospital.

Why did this intervention work so well? The answer provides a general lesson that goes beyond hand washing.

The brilliance of the electronic board was that, instead of using the threat of spreading disease, the common approach in this situation, the researchers chose a positive strategy. Every time a staff member washed their hands, they received immediate positive feedback. Positive feedback triggers a reward signal in the brain, reinforcing the action that caused it, and making it more likely to be repeated in the future.

But why would inconsequential positive feedback be a stronger motivator than the possibility of spreading disease? This may seem odd, but it fits well with what we know about the human brain.

Neuroscience suggests that when it comes to motivating action (for example, getting people to work longer hours or producing star reports), rewards may be more effective than punishments. And the inverse is true when trying to deter people from acting (for example, discouraging people from sharing privileged information or using the organization’s resources for private purposes) — in this case, punishments are more effective. The reason relates to the characteristics of the world we live in.

To reap rewards in life, whether it is a piece of cherry pie, a loved one, or a promotion, we usually need to act, to approach. So our brain has evolved to accommodate an environment in which often the best way to gain rewards is to take action. When we expect something good, our brain initiates a “go” signal. This signal is triggered by dopaminergic neurons deep in the mid-brain that move up through the brain to the motor cortex, which controls action.

In contrast, to avoid bad things — poison, deep waters, untrustworthy people — we usually simply need to stay put, to not reach out. So our brain has evolved to accommodate an environment in which often (though not always) the best way to not get hurt is to avoid action altogether. When we anticipate something bad, our brain triggers a “no go” signal. These signals also originate in the mid-brain and move up to the cortex, but unlike “go” signals, they inhibit action, sometimes causing us to freeze altogether. (Even in situations where real danger is imminent, the freeze response often precedes the fight-or-flight response that may follow it, like a deer in the headlights.)

This asymmetry partially explains why electronic positive feedback was more successful at motivating the medical staff to wash their hands than the threat of illness to themselves and others. There are a number of other reasons too, such as social incentives, that I uncovered when researching and writing my book.

Other work demonstrates how we are biologically wired such that anticipating rewards elicits action. In an experiment led by neuroscientist Marc Guitart-Masip, which I and others collaborated on, we found that volunteers were quicker to press a button (that is, to act) when we offered them a dollar (anticipating a reward) than they were to press a button to avoid losing a dollar (anticipating punishment). However, they did a better job when they were asked not to press buttons (to not act) to avoid losing a dollar than they did when we offered them a dollar in return. In the latter case they sometimes instinctively pressed the button.

While we should be cautious translating such basic research to real-world situations, it would seem that creating positive anticipation in others (perhaps with a weekly acknowledgment of the most productive employee on the company website) may be more effective at motivating action than threatening poor performance with a demotion or pay cut. Fear and anxiety can cause us to withdraw and give up rather than take action and improve. In line with this notion, studies have shown that giving people small monetary rewards for exercising or eating healthily was more effective at changing behavior than warning of obesity and disease.

There is another reason why warnings often have limited impact. Our research has shown that the brain encodes positive information (such as learning that the likelihood of obesity is lower than previously thought) better than negative information (such as learning it is higher). In fact, people often assume negative information is unrelated to them, but view positive information as very much relevant, which generates an optimistic outlook.

When we notice others making suboptimal decisions, we automatically fast forward in our heads and visualize their failure, leading us to warn them about the devastation we envision. But what the research here suggests is that we need to consciously overcome our habit of trying to scare people into action, and instead highlight the rewards that come with reaching our goals.

The case against spanking

Physical discipline is slowly declining as some studies reveal lasting harms for children.

A growing body of research has shown that spanking and other forms of physical discipline can pose serious risks to children, but many parents aren’t hearing the message.

“It’s a very controversial area even though the research is extremely telling and very clear and consistent about the negative effects on children,” says Sandra Graham-Bermann, PhD, a psychology professor and principal investigator for the Child Violence and Trauma Laboratory at the University of Michigan. “People get frustrated and hit their kids. Maybe they don’t see there are other options.”

Many studies have shown that physical punishment — including spanking, hitting and other means of causing pain — can lead to increased aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injury and mental health problems for children. Americans’ acceptance of physical punishment has declined since the 1960s, yet surveys show that two-thirds of Americans still approve of parents spanking their kids.

But spanking doesn’t work, says Alan Kazdin, PhD, a Yale University psychology professor and director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic. “You cannot punish out these behaviors that you do not want,” says Kazdin, who served as APA president in 2008. “There is no need for corporal punishment based on the research. We are not giving up an effective technique. We are saying this is a horrible thing that does not work.”

Evidence of harm

On the international front, physical discipline is increasingly being viewed as a violation of children’s human rights. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a directive in 2006 calling physical punishment “legalized violence against children” that should be eliminated in all settings through “legislative, administrative, social and educational measures.” The treaty that established the committee has been supported by 192 countries, with only the United States and Somalia failing to ratify it.

Around the world, 30 countries have banned physical punishment of children in all settings, including the home. The legal bans typically have been used as public education tools, rather than attempts to criminalize behavior by parents who spank their children, says Elizabeth Gershoff, PhD, a leading researcher on physical punishment at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Physical punishment doesn’t work to get kids to comply, so parents think they have to keep escalating it. That is why it is so dangerous,” she says.

After reviewing decades of research, Gershoff wrote the Report on Physical Punishment in the United States: What Research Tells Us About Its Effects on Children, published in 2008 in conjunction with Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The report recommends that parents and caregivers make every effort to avoid physical punishment and calls for the banning of physical discipline in all U.S. schools. The report has been endorsed by dozens of organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and Psychologists for Social Responsibility.

After three years of work on the APA Task Force on Physical Punishment of Children, Gershoff and Graham- Bermann wrote a report in 2008 summarizing the task force’s recommendations. That report recommends that “parents and caregivers reduce and potentially eliminate their use of any physical punishment as a disciplinary method.” The report calls on psychologists and other professionals to “indicate to parents that physical punishment is not an appropriate, or even a consistently effective, method of discipline.”

“We have the opportunity here to take a strong stand in favor of protecting children,” says Graham-Bermann, who chaired the task force.

APA’s Committee on Children, Youth and Families (CYF) and the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest unanimously approved a proposed resolution last year based on the task force recommendations. It states that APA supports “parents’ use of non-physical methods of disciplining children” and opposes “the use of severe or injurious physical punishment of any child.” APA also should support additional research and a public education campaign on “the effectiveness and outcomes associated with corporal punishment and nonphysical methods of discipline,” the proposed resolution states. After obtaining feedback from other APA boards and committees in the spring of 2012, APA’s Council of Representatives will consider adopting the resolution as APA policy.

Preston Britner, PhD, a child developmental psychologist and professor at the University of Connecticut, helped draft the proposed resolution as co-chair of CYF. “It addresses the concerns about physical punishment and a growing body of research on alternatives to physical punishment, along with the idea that psychology and psychologists have much to contribute to the development of those alternative strategies,” he says.

More than three decades have passed since APA approved a resolution in 1975 opposing corporal punishment in schools and other institutions, but it didn’t address physical discipline in the home. That resolution stated that corporal punishment can “instill hostility, rage and a sense of powerlessness without reducing the undesirable behavior.”

Research findings

Physical punishment can work momentarily to stop problematic behavior because children are afraid of being hit, but it doesn’t work in the long term and can make children more aggressive, Graham-Bermann says.

A study published last year in Child Abuse and Neglect revealed an intergenerational cycle of violence in homes where physical punishment was used. Researchers interviewed parents and children age 3 to 7 from more than 100 families. Children who were physically punished were more likely to endorse hitting as a means of resolving their conflicts with peers and siblings. Parents who had experienced frequent physical punishment during their childhood were more likely to believe it was acceptable, and they frequently spanked their children. Their children, in turn, often believed spanking was an appropriate disciplinary method.

The negative effects of physical punishment may not become apparent for some time, Gershoff says. “A child doesn’t get spanked and then run out and rob a store,” she says. “There are indirect changes in how the child thinks about things and feels about things.”

As in many areas of science, some researchers disagree about the validity of the studies on physical punishment. Robert Larzelere, PhD, an Oklahoma State University professor who studies parental discipline, was a member of the APA task force who issued his own minority report because he disagreed with the scientific basis of the task force recommendations. While he agrees that parents should reduce their use of physical punishment, he says most of the cited studies are correlational and don’t show a causal link between physical punishment and long-term negative effects for children.

“The studies do not discriminate well between non-abusive and overly severe types of corporal punishment,” Larzelere says. “You get worse outcomes from corporal punishment than from alternative disciplinary techniques only when it is used more severely or as the primary discipline tactic.”

In a meta-analysis of 26 studies, Larzelere and a colleague found that an approach they described as “conditional spanking” led to greater reductions in child defiance or anti-social behavior than 10 of 13 alternative discipline techniques, including reasoning, removal of privileges and time out (Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2005). Larzelere defines conditional spanking as a disciplinary technique for 2- to 6-year-old children in which parents use two open-handed swats on the buttocks only after the child has defied milder discipline such as time out.

Gershoff says all of the studies on physical punishment have some shortcomings. “Unfortunately, all research on parent discipline is going to be correlational because we can’t randomly assign kids to parents for an experiment. But I don’t think we have to disregard all research that has been done,” she says. “I can just about count on one hand the studies that have found anything positive about physical punishment and hundreds that have been negative.”

Teaching new skills

If parents aren’t supposed to hit their kids, what nonviolent techniques can help with discipline? The Parent Management Training program headed by Kazdin at Yale is grounded in research on applied behavioral analysis. The program teaches parents to use positive reinforcement and effusive praise to reward children for good behavior.

Kazdin also uses a technique that may sound like insanity to most parents: Telling toddlers to practice throwing a tantrum. Parents ask their children to have a pretend tantrum without one undesirable element, such as hitting or kicking. Gradually, as children practice controlling tantrums when they aren’t angry, their real tantrums lessen, Kazdin says.

Remaining calm during a child’s tantrums is the best approach, coupled with time outs when needed and a consistent discipline plan that rewards good behavior, Graham-Bermann says. APA offers the Adults & Children Together Against Violence program, which provides parenting skills classes through a nationwide research-based program called Parents Raising Safe Kids. The course teaches parents how to avoid violence through anger management, positive child discipline and conflict resolution. (For more information on ACT, see the November Monitor.)

Parents should talk with their children about appropriate means of resolving conflicts, Gershoff says. Building a trusting relationship can help children believe that discipline isn’t arbitrary or done out of anger.

“Part of the problem is good discipline isn’t quick or easy,” she says. “Even the best of us parents don’t always have that kind of patience.”

The Right Persuasive Tool(s) for the Job

The research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation shows that the gentler the intervention to achieve the desired behavior change, the better the long-term outcome. [48 ]It&rsquos good to keep that research in mind when considering persuasive technology tools. For example, if a suggestion technology can produce the desired behavior, that approach should be used rather than surveillance technology. Not only will the gentler suggestion technology produce better results, it will do so without raising the ethical issues relating to surveillance.

In many cases, effective persuasion requires more than using a single tool or strategy. Some of the examples I&rsquove described in this chapter are combinations of persuasive technology tools: The heart rate monitor is a combination of self-monitoring and suggestion technologies it monitors the heart rate, and it notifies the users when the rate wanders beyond the preset zone. The chemical scorecard at uses tailoring technology to provide targeted information and reduction technology to make it easy to take action&mdashto send e-mail and faxes to government officials and offending companies. It even writes the letter for you, including relevant details.

As these examples illustrate, in many cases effective persuasion requires more than one tool or strategy. Whether you are designing, analyzing, or using persuasive technology, look for these natural synergies as different tool types come together to create a persuasive interactive experience.

For updates on the topics presented in this chapter, visit

[48 ]Ajit Chaudhari and Emily Clark were my students who created the Telecycle prototype.


Humans regularly intervene in others' conflicts as third-parties. This has been studied using the third-party punishment game: A third-party can pay a cost to punish another player (the “dictator”) who treated someone else poorly. Because the game is anonymous and one-shot, punishers are thought to have no strategic reasons to intervene. Nonetheless, punishers often punish dictators who treat others poorly. This result is central to a controversy over human social evolution: Did third-party punishment evolve to maintain group norms or to deter others from acting against one's interests? This paper provides a critical test. We manipulate the ingroup/outgroup composition of the players while simultaneously measuring the inferences punishers make about how the dictator would treat them personally. The group norm predictions were falsified, as outgroup defectors were punished most harshly, not ingroup defectors (as predicted by ingroup fairness norms) and not outgroup members generally (as predicted by norms of parochialism). The deterrence predictions were validated: Punishers punished the most when they inferred that they would be treated the worst by dictators, especially when better treatment would be expected given ingroup/outgroup composition.

4 Arguments for Corporal Punishment in Schools

  1. Because it works. That is why corporal punishment has been teachers&apos traditional punishment tool for so long�use it is effective. There are no other means of punishment that have the same effect as both a punishment and a deterrent for misbehavior. The psychological and physical immediacy of a short, sharp shock is simply the most effective way to affect behavior change in some circumstances.
  2. It&aposs easy to administer. As long as it is properly regulated, there should be no problems with it being used in schools. Some of the negative stories cited by people who are opposed to corporal punishment were the result of failures in regulation and leadership, not in corporal punishment itself.
  3. It can be administered quickly. Afterward, the pupil can then continue with his or her learning, unlike other forms of punishment (such as suspension from school when they miss school time and their education is put on hold).
  4. It&aposs an effective use of staff time, unlike other forms of punishment (like detentions, when hours of staff time can be wasted supervising students who have misbehaved). It makes it possible for staff to spend more time educating or supporting students instead of punishing them.


Rewards such as stickers, praise, money, toys, and more can be used to reinforce learning. Let’s go back to Skinner’s rats again. How did the rats learn to press the lever in the Skinner box? They were rewarded with food each time they pressed the lever. For animals, food would be an obvious reinforcer.

What would be a good reinforce for humans? For your daughter Sydney, it was the promise of a toy if she cleaned her room. How about Joaquin, the soccer player? If you gave Joaquin a piece of candy every time he made a goal, you would be using a primary reinforcer . Primary reinforcers are reinforcers that have innate reinforcing qualities. These kinds of reinforcers are not learned. Water, food, sleep, shelter, sex, and touch, among others, are primary reinforcers. Pleasure is also a primary reinforcer. Organisms do not lose their drive for these things. For most people, jumping in a cool lake on a very hot day would be reinforcing and the cool lake would be innately reinforcing—the water would cool the person off (a physical need), as well as provide pleasure.

A secondary reinforcer has no inherent value and only has reinforcing qualities when linked with a primary reinforcer. Praise, linked to affection, is one example of a secondary reinforcer, as when you called out “Great shot!” every time Joaquin made a goal. Another example, money, is only worth something when you can use it to buy other things—either things that satisfy basic needs (food, water, shelter—all primary reinforcers) or other secondary reinforcers. If you were on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and you had stacks of money, the money would not be useful if you could not spend it. What about the stickers on the behavior chart? They also are secondary reinforcers.

Sometimes, instead of stickers on a sticker chart, a token is used. Tokens, which are also secondary reinforcers, can then be traded in for rewards and prizes. Entire behavior management systems, known as token economies, are built around the use of these kinds of token reinforcers. Token economies have been found to be very effective at modifying behavior in a variety of settings such as schools, prisons, and mental hospitals. For example, a study by Cangi and Daly (2013) found that use of a token economy increased appropriate social behaviors and reduced inappropriate behaviors in a group of autistic school children. Autistic children tend to exhibit disruptive behaviors such as pinching and hitting. When the children in the study exhibited appropriate behavior (not hitting or pinching), they received a “quiet hands” token. When they hit or pinched, they lost a token. The children could then exchange specified amounts of tokens for minutes of playtime.

Parents and teachers often use behavior modification to change a child’s behavior. Behavior modification uses the principles of operant conditioning to accomplish behavior change so that undesirable behaviors are switched for more socially acceptable ones. Some teachers and parents create a sticker chart, in which several behaviors are listed ([link]). Sticker charts are a form of token economies, as described in the text. Each time children perform the behavior, they get a sticker, and after a certain number of stickers, they get a prize, or reinforcer. The goal is to increase acceptable behaviors and decrease misbehavior. Remember, it is best to reinforce desired behaviors, rather than to use punishment. In the classroom, the teacher can reinforce a wide range of behaviors, from students raising their hands, to walking quietly in the hall, to turning in their homework. At home, parents might create a behavior chart that rewards children for things such as putting away toys, brushing their teeth, and helping with dinner. In order for behavior modification to be effective, the reinforcement needs to be connected with the behavior the reinforcement must matter to the child and be done consistently.

Sticker charts are a form of positive reinforcement and a tool for behavior modification. Once this little girl earns a certain number of stickers for demonstrating a desired behavior, she will be rewarded with a trip to the ice cream parlor. (credit: Abigail Batchelder)

Time-out is another popular technique used in behavior modification with children. It operates on the principle of negative punishment. When a child demonstrates an undesirable behavior, she is removed from the desirable activity at hand ([link]). For example, say that Sophia and her brother Mario are playing with building blocks. Sophia throws some blocks at her brother, so you give her a warning that she will go to time-out if she does it again. A few minutes later, she throws more blocks at Mario. You remove Sophia from the room for a few minutes. When she comes back, she doesn’t throw blocks.

There are several important points that you should know if you plan to implement time-out as a behavior modification technique. First, make sure the child is being removed from a desirable activity and placed in a less desirable location. If the activity is something undesirable for the child, this technique will backfire because it is more enjoyable for the child to be removed from the activity. Second, the length of the time-out is important. The general rule of thumb is one minute for each year of the child’s age. Sophia is five therefore, she sits in a time-out for five minutes. Setting a timer helps children know how long they have to sit in time-out. Finally, as a caregiver, keep several guidelines in mind over the course of a time-out: remain calm when directing your child to time-out ignore your child during time-out (because caregiver attention may reinforce misbehavior) and give the child a hug or a kind word when time-out is over.

Time-out is a popular form of negative punishment used by caregivers. When a child misbehaves, he or she is removed from a desirable activity in an effort to decrease the unwanted behavior. For example, (a) a child might be playing on the playground with friends and push another child (b) the child who misbehaved would then be removed from the activity for a short period of time. (credit a: modification of work by Simone Ramella credit b: modification of work by “JefferyTurner”/Flickr)

Reward Vs. Punishment: Which One is More Effective? Let’s Discuss

Human psychology is, perhaps, one of the most interesting subjects of study. We all learn from our experiences which shape our behavior. These experiences are diverse with respect to different stimuli, which can be easily manipulated to change human behavior. On the most basic level, it is positive and negative conditioning, through reward and punishment, respectively. But, which one is more effective and works better on behavior?

Human psychology is, perhaps, one of the most interesting subjects of study. We all learn from our experiences which shape our behavior. These experiences are diverse with respect to different stimuli, which can be easily manipulated to change human behavior. On the most basic level, it is positive and negative conditioning, through reward and punishment, respectively. But, which one is more effective and works better on behavior?

Do you know that you can fashion or change a child/a poor student/an addict/a pet/an unproductive employee or close one’s behavior through conditioning? But, the question is, which route would you choose – positive or negative? Most people are taught to refrain from engaging in a certain behavior by being given punishments that create negative feelings. This helps maintain discipline at home, school and even organizations. However, it has long been debated as to which one works better on behavior.

If you are an ardent believer of using punishments to modulate a person’s behavior, you may have to change your whole belief system because, a recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard University discovered that most people function better in an environment that consists of positive elements that act as rewards. B.F. Skinner, the father of operant conditioning who advocated radical behaviorism, attempted to understand the relationship between behavior conditioning and modification. He also gave us a new school of psychology called the “experimental analysis of behavior” which studies the effect of reward and punishment on human psychology. Since then, the case of ‘rewards vs. punishment’ has often been debated upon.

Is Reward Better than Punishment?

YES. A person is motivated to learn new behavior if there is an opportunity to gain incentives. Since, a reward is a great way of expressing appreciation or acknowledging the efforts of another person in a positive light, rewards are better than punishments! However, for rewards to be effective, three conditions must be fulfilled

  • The subject MUST be interested in the reward
  • The reward must be given AFTER accomplishment of the desired action
  • Performance must EXCEED normal standards

The failure of achievement of desired results occurs due to inability to fulfill all the three requisites. Also, it must be noted that the rewards presented not only cause behavior modification, they also lead to creation of values which set the trend for rewards that must be bestowed in future as a part of positive reinforcement. I would like to point out here that, extraordinary results beyond the capabilities of the subject should not be expected.

The Pros of Rewarding

The opportunity to give a reward can also be used to optimum advantage by teaching values that leave a permanent imprint on a person’s behavior and hence, can be observed in the long term. By doing so, you can ensure that the benefits of rewarding are not limited to a short span of time. For instance, an employee works in the company for the reward of an attractive monthly salary. Till the time it is valuable to him, he will continue to strive for productivity and optimum performance in order to achieve maximum rewards. However, when the salary loses its appeal due to any reason, he will start to slack and may even quit his job himself. Similarly, bright students often achieve good results for the incentive of top grades, whereas, average or below average students may not be attracted by the pride attached with an ‘A’ grade. In such a scenario, using rewards to motivate students to perform well is a good option rather than condemning them for their failure to do so.

The Cons of Rewarding

Rewards can also have negative effects. While the above examples illustrate the occurrence of a pleasant event to reward an activity, negative rewards refer to removal of a negative object or preventing the occurrence of a negative event in lieu of desired performance. This is also called negative reinforcement (not punishment). On the other hand, a punishment only helps to decrease the incidence of an action or behavior by enforcing an undesirable stimulus. However, the effectiveness of punishments can be deduced from the findings of a study on this matter by Tulane University. It was found that children who were spanked at the age of 3 years became more aggressive as observed after 2 years. This, perhaps, explains why most couples end up fighting more in a relationship once either partner starts nagging. The study revealed that punishments such as spanking are an ineffective method for behavior modification in children aged below 12 years and should not be used, otherwise they act as a stimulus for bad behavior in the later years.

The Impact of Punishment

But, if punishment is used among children older than that or in young adults, it brings anxiety based along the lines of “what will happen if I don’t?”. For alteration in behavior to take place and new behavior to be adopted, the source of stimuli employed must be consistently exposed to the targeted subject. If it is inconsistent, behavior may change only temporarily or not at all. But, an inconsistent reward or punishment may be effective when it comes from a powerful or a highly authoritative source. Otherwise, a favorable outcome to be achieved is generally achieved from rewards because most people are inclined to learn from positive experiences faster than negative ones. Punishments harbor negative feelings and often end up being a 100% failure, especially among kids. People often try to resist any form of control. Punishments can only bring forced discipline which ends up backfiring at some point when a person cannot handle the stress and goes into a ‘fight or flight’ mode. If you are one of those parents who use means of punishment, especially physical, to control your children, you may be hampering their mental development and growth of their IQ! In a debate over reward vs. punishment, rewards emerge as a superior technique of behavior modification and win hands down.

“You get what you reward. Be clear about what you want to get and systematically reward it.”

The Mathematics of Rewards

Rewards are, however, not effective when it takes the form of bribing as they often induce GREED. Any changes in behavior are solely driven by the appeal of the reward and do not bring any real behavior modification. A person does not have to resort to punishments to prevent future incidences of bad behavior. This can also be done by simply changing the motive of behavior instead of trying to curb the behavior itself. Care must be taken that bad behavior is not explicitly classified as being ‘undesired’ as it may unfavorably fuel reverse psychology. Behavioral motive can be changed by giving rewards for the behavior and then, gradually reducing them until the subject is no longer motivated to exhibit undesired behavior.

Rewarding for positive behavior can be tricky because you don’t want to create a generation that thrives only on rewards in order to behave well, and frequently rewarding a misbehaving person to bring up his/her morale is also not fair to those who show good behavior without the stimulus of a reward. Most people have a controlling streak and want to amend all actions and behavior in others that they think may lead to disharmony later. When you are irritated by a person’s behavior, try to ignore it by showing your appreciation for his/her actions that delight you by acknowledging it with words or rewarding with gifts.