Risk and Motivation: The Experiment
After my most recent blog on how the level of risk impacts self motivation, I received an email asking how researchers determined this relationship. I am not a researcher; I am a teacher. I read the literature, study research by others, read their conclusions, and draw some of my own conclusions. I then present this information, this knowledge, in a manner in which my learners can understand the information and can implement it in their lives.
For most of the information, the experiments are, I believe, of much less importance than the information that the experiment yielded. Consequently, I just teach the information. Sometimes, however, the experiment serves as a great example of the information, and thereby helps people better understand the information and how to implement it. The experiment on the relationship of motivation and risk is such an experiment. This is the reason I use it in my self motivation workshop.
The experiment is described by Richard DeCharms, in his book Enhancing Motivation. The experiment involves a game I refer to as the ball in the box game. Each player is given eight balls. They are instructed they are to get the balls into a box which is set on the floor. They decide how far away they are to stand from the box for their final four throws. That decision is based upon four practice throws, during which they can move closer to or further from the box. After the four practice throws, they must decide upon the spot. The final four balls that count are thrown only from that spot.
The experimenters found there were three options chosen:
- Close enough to never miss
- Far away as to make success unlikely
- A middle distance making getting in the box a challenge, but possible.
Subsequent surveys with participants revealed that those who were the most successful in their lives were those in the third group.
People who make choice one will succeed, but what have they achieved? Nothing. These people, research shows, fear failure. Their fear of failure makes them lose a sense of accomplishment. They fear failure so much they never take any risk
People who choose very far away are also afraid of the appearance of failure. So they go so far away that even if they miss, they haven’t really “failed”, because they were trying the impossible, shooting for the moon. By doing this they avoid responsibility when they fail.
The people in the third group, the ones who take reasoned risks, pick the middle ground, in between a sureness of success and a high probability of failure.
What successful people do is set the bar high enough that they have to work to achieve success. Once they do achieve success, they will set the bar a bit higher.
In my next blog I will share with you a couple of strategies for how you can make sure you are doing the behaviors of a successful person, and setting your level of risk at the optimal level.
Tags: how to motivate myself, iMotivateme, model for self motivation, motivating myself, motivation, optimal level of risk, pursuing your dreams, risk and motivation, risk and self motivation, risk taking, self motivation