Dog Psychology and Human Motivation: Daniel Pink on What Motivates Us

Dogs want more than anything to please their owners. As such, they respond to positive reinforcement: if the dog does something good and the owner responds with affection, treats, and joy, then the dog will remember that and will eventually learn to do those things that make the dog owner happy.

A recent article on canine psychology reveals some interesting things that most average dog owners don’t know:

The average person who does not have an expert understanding of canine behavior, might scold their dog harshly or punish them and wonder why it does not seem to have an effect on the dog’s behavior. They remain puzzled as to why their dog continues to chew their shoes while they are away or why they have yet to understand the concept of potty training. It often has to do with the owner’s approach to training. Punishment is not an effective training method with dogs and therefore it will not do anything to stop bad behavior, and in some cases it actually makes the behavior worse.

Dogs live to please their owners. It is the foundation upon which the entire relationship is based. Dogs want to make the owner happy more than anything, so when a positive training method like treats or verbal praise and affection are used, the idea is cemented. The dog wants to make you happy so it learns what to do to make that happen. However, the recipe does not work in reverse.

Punishment is a concept that does not make sense to the dog. They do not have logic. They are unable to connect the undesirable behavior to the punishment through cause and effect. It only confuses them and makes them fear their owner, which damages the bond that is the foundation of the relationship. 1

Humans are not Dogs

For humans, motivation doesn’t work the same way. Positive reinforcement works well as a child, but as an adult, it works less so. According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth of what Motivates Us, he explains that his decade-long research shows that humans are more motivated by intrinsic items such as autonomy, desire for mastery, and happiness. External measures are motivational in the short-term, but not the long-term.

Motivation and Your Lean Six Sigma Implementation

This has implications for lean and six sigma practitioners. In coaching the front-lines or as a sensei to others, we need to remember that those we teach and mentor wish to have autonomy and mastery. Those are what truly motivates.

Daniel Pink explains more in the videos below.

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Daniel Pink, Leading@Google

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Daniel Pink, Part 1:

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Daniel Pink, Part 2:

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Daniel Pink, Part 3:

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Daniel Pink, Part 4:

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Daniel Pink, Part 5:

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Daniel Pink, Part 6:

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  1. http://www.helium.com/items/1966431-dog-psychology-why-punishment-doesnt-work

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