What would that be like? How could you buy property, get out of jail, take a chance, get ‘around the board’ without cash? Isn’t that what makes that little shoe, not to mention life, go around?

Harlow, Duncker, Pink & Piff
Not so, according to research. Notice I’m not saying new research? Research as far back as 1949 (Harry F. Harlow; intrinsic motivation) has indicated that the extrinsic reward of money is not all it’s ‘sold’ to us as. In the 1940s Karl Duncker set up a little problem whose results supported the neobehavioristic drive theory. Called the candle problem, it’s worth a shot for creative thinking.

In the Wikipedia article about Sam Glucksberg playing with the candle exercise in an experiment where he split people into high drives and low drives, giving the high drives a possibility of earning some money, the low drives none. The result showed that monetary reward can actually cut down the creative thinking and problem solving parts of our brain. I’ll bet you two bits how popular that was! So the reward theory remained King of Motivation Theories.

That didn’t stop researchers. Edward Deci in 1969 found that when a monetary reward was paid, then pulled back, the group that had received some pay lost interest whereas the team that had received no pay whatsoever gained interest in the task and it seems became more curious and playful (Pink, 2011).

There are a number of speakers on Ted.com who now address the ‘mismatch of what science knows and business does’ (Conclusion of a study by the London School of Economics in 2009). Here’s a few I’ve picked out for you:

Daniel Pink  The puzzle of motivation (one from the Work Smarter series I mentioned in my last blog)

Dan Ariely What makes us feel good about our work?

Paul Piff Does money make you mean?

While reward (i.e. paycheck) is often thought of as the great motivator, for many of us, this is not what the research has found to be true. But cake is, so, here’s your reward:

Recipe:  Chocolate Sheet Cake
based on The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, ¼ tsp salt, 250gms butter, 1/3 c cocoa, 1 cup boiling water, ½ cup buttermilk, 2 whole beaten eggs, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp vanilla

Melt 2 sticks regular (not unsalted) butter in a saucepan. While it’s melting, boil 1 cup of water When the butter is melted, add the cocoa powder and mix thoroughly. With the heat still on, pour in the boiling water.  Allow to bubble for 30 seconds Turn off heat. Set aside
In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir together. Pour the hot butter/chocolate mixture over the top and stir together slightly, just to cool the chocolate. In a measuring cup, pour 1/2 cup buttermilk. To the buttermilk, add 2 beaten eggs. And 1 teaspoon baking soda. Stir together. Add the buttermilk mixture to the chocolate/flour mixture. Stir together well.
Pour the batter into the ungreased pan, spreading evenly.  I used 2x round cake tins. You can also bake in a sheet pan (hence the name), results in soft, thick square cakes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Creamy frosting

Ingredients: 300 gms heavy cream, 275ml semisweet chocolate broken into pieces, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Directions I heated the cream till very hot, then poured that over the chocolate pieces (some of the chocolate went missing, believe it or not). Stir to completely melt the chocolate, then pour into the bowl of an electric mixer. Refrigerate to cool. I cooled overnight the first time I made it and it was messy to beat (I use a hand beater), the second time I cooled about an hour and it was quite runny so somewhere in the middle is the cooling time you’re going for. Once cooled to a sufficient texture, add the vanilla and beat until light and airy.

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