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Being recognized as a leader in thought, innovation, or creativity is frequently a greater individual motivator than simple monetary reward.

Our nature as social animals places 'recognition from peers' at least equal in importance to 'simple monetary compensation'. Many popular arguments assume that the reason freedom to create overrides monetary compensation as a powerful motivator is that we value freedom or creativity over money. This is often true, but peeling the onion back further, I would contend that the deeper reason for these priorities are simpler but not as socially laudable as first assumed. Such recognition is often more individually valuable than money. Social status can often open more doors than money thereby offering even more individual opportunities. At the deepest levels, it is total freedom and maximum number of choices that has been selected by evolution. This talk and many like it ignore the individual profit realized by being recognized and elevated up the social ladder versus simple fiscal profit.

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    Feb 7 2013: I agree with your statement. I think it is not just about getting recognition for that sort of work but because that sort of work is tremendously intrinsically motivating for the creatively inclined or ingenious person. I agree with your further statement that the opportunity to do more such work has great value to the highly creative individual, so being considered a go-to person for that sort of project is a constructive pathway toward more such fun.
    • Feb 8 2013: Fritzie, if you have time, please look at my response to Kriztian and comment if it warrants. Am I being too cynical or reasonably objective?
      Thanks,
      Reef
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        Feb 8 2013: Well, in terms of altruism, I think people's choices are fully entangled with the value they place on the well-being of others. I don't think one can therefore assert as a matter of principle that all choices are about personal gain in the sense in which people usually mean that.

        I think the joy of doing creative work is joy to the individual and intrinsic in most cases rather than motivated by a desire for status. Have you listened to Czikzentmihalyi's talk about flow? I think it goes to that point.
        • Feb 8 2013: Not yet, I'll take a look at that talk. More directly to the point, I believe that, just as there are often many causes for any effect rather than just the one most people see, there are many reasons for each of our decisions, but we only reveal the more culturally supported ones. As pointed out above, people range in these aspects as they do in most all attributes, but I think we're all guilty to one degree or another of hiding true motivators (yes, very often even from ourselves).
          Thanks as always for the thoughts.
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    Feb 8 2013: so? what follows from that?
    • Feb 8 2013: Recognizing the real underlying motivators, rather than just the culturally laudable and loudly advertised reasons, helps find real answers to questions. To use this talk as an example, the question was effectively what really motivates people? My perspective on the discussion is that the 'surprise' answer was that money, and by implication personal profit, was not as strong a motivator as freedom to express one's self. I'm saying that that freedom really masks another form of personal profit.
      The distinction is subtle, but very important. Frequently, people are elevated for selfless acts that were in fact performed partly or primarily for the anticipated social elevation rather than the apparent altruism. I'm not so cynical to suggest that real altruism does not exist; it certainly does! I'm only suggesting that we should be discerning enough to know, or at least suspect the difference. By doing so, puzzling questions like the subject of this TEDtalk become less enigmatic, and so lead to simpler and more efficient and effective answers to the questions posed.
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    Feb 8 2013: Of course, I believe that if there is individual profit by being recognized and elevated up the social ladder, then a greater loss has occurred by denying equality and the raising up of all, rather than a few at the expense of the many
  • Feb 8 2013: The valences may vary from person to person.
    • Feb 8 2013: Always. But bell curves still allow us to understand questions and find answers that generally can help on the whole.