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Overjustification Effect

Imagine this …

You absolutely love to create hand-made cards that you send your friends and family on special occasions.

It brings you so much joy to see the people you care about open your envelope and have a big smile rush to their faces.

Every year, your friends say: “You should start making these and selling them online!

What do you do?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy, we’re taking a look at The Overjustification Effect – why getting paid makes us enjoy activities less.

Let’s get into it.

 

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The Psychology of Overjustification 🧠

What’s an activity that you do just for fun?

Maybe it’s baking for your partner, organizing trips for you and your friends, or taking photographs when going for walks.

How would you feel if I offered you money for those activities – would you take it? Would you keep doing those activities for fun knowing that you could be making money doing them for others?

That tension is called the Overjustification Effect. It turns extrinsically motivated activities (things we simply love doing), into intrinsically motivated activities (things we only do for rewards).

The root cause of the Overjustification Effect still remains a mystery to researchers. But it appears across so many activity types and cultures that it’s attributed to cognitive motivation and dissonance.

Simply put: once there’s a monetary reward for completing a task, that becomes our motivator for completing it. Activities that you used to get intrinsic value from become extrinsically motivated.

Inside Your Buyer’s Mind🧐

It’s common advice to incentivize your customer to complete tasks when required.

However, this advice might not be so sage after all. According to the Overjustification Effect, we now know that this is an icy slope to which there is no return.

Once someone’s motivation flips from intrinsic to extrinsic, you’ll find yourself in a hamster wheel trying to match tasks with rewards.

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?

Identify What Your Buyer Really Wants

It’s lazy to assume that your customer wants monetary compensation for every task you have them perform. Instead, speak with them to learn what their real pains, goals, and desired outcomes are. This will uncover alternative rewards you can offer.

Elevate Your Customer’s Status

At the end of the day, all money does is elevate our social status. Find alternative ways to elevate the status of your customers that doesn’t require any extrinsic rewards. (Ex. priority service, community recognition, mentions).

Reward Boring Tasks

Rather than compensating your buyer for tasks they enjoy completing, reward them for tasks they don’t enjoy. This keeps them intrinsically motivated to do the things they like, while still accomplishing the menial tasks.

The Short of It 💥

If your customers are happy to perform the necessary tasks without rewards, start with that. Be generous with your praises and make an effort to acknowledge their efforts.

Reward people for completing boring or trivial tasks – ones no one wants to do.

Explore ways to elevate your customer’s social status before offering physical rewards.

Until next time, happy selling!

 

Pssssttt…

 

Wanna really get inside your buyer’s head?

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Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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