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Wrong Esther Aarts?

Esther Aarts

Senior Researcher

Donders Institute

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I agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand that I will receive a subscription to ZoomInfo Community Edition at no charge in exchange for downloading and installing the ZoomInfo Contact Contributor utility which, among other features, involves sharing my business contacts as well as headers and signature blocks from emails that I receive.

Donders Institute

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Web References(2 Total References)


Lean Reflections: 2014

www.leanreflect.com [cached]

Recently published work by Esther Aarts of the Donders Institute in Nijmegen has demonstrated such a relationship.
As you would expect, levels of dopamine, which is believed to be related to pleasure and reward, vary from one person to the next. In her experiments, Aarts first measured dopamine levels in test subjects using a PET scanner. Aarts says:


www.leanreflect.com

It would be nice to have a scientific explanation of why the effectiveness of bonuses is so mixed.New brain research suggests that bonuses can make some people more productive, but actually make other people’s performance worse, and the difference seems to be related to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Recently published work by Esther Aarts of the Donders Institute in Nijmegen  has demonstrated such a relationship. As you would expect, levels of dopamine, which is believed to be related to pleasure and reward, vary from one person to the next.
In her experiments, Aarts first measured dopamine levels in test subjects using a PET scanner. Then, asked to perform a difficult cognitive task, some subjects were offered a bonus of 15 cents for a right answer. The others were offered 1 cent. You might guess that offering a reward that elevated dopamine levels would make people want to do a better job. In this study, people with lower dopamine levels did perform better work when they were getting the higher reward. In contrast, subjects with high levels of dopamine in the high pay group actually performed worse than those getting lower rewards. What’s going on here?Aarts says:“For people who usually have high levels of dopamine, the promise of a bonus causes a type of dopamine overdose… Our test subjects were asked to perform a task that required considerable concentration. An overdose of dopamine makes this difficult. People who usually have less dopamine are less likely to have an overdose of dopamine, and they therefore perform better after being promised a bonus.� Does this help us know how to motivate people to work harder to implement lean? Unfortunately not. There’s no easy or ethical way to measure an employee’s brain dopamine level. If you could, dividing people into groups for more pay or less based on a chemical test would not stand up to a legal challenge. And basing compensation on a single study with an interesting explanation isn’t very scientific.Aarts also pointed out that rewards might work differently for simple tasks than the tasks in the study that required concentration and focus. In a lean system, all employees think about the work they are doing and continually come up with ways to improve it -- all work requires concentration and focus. 0 false 18 pt 18 pt 0 0 false false false /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} Even if it’s not useful in making real world decisions about compensation systems, the research does remind us that people are different.


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