This raises the age-old question of whether intrinsic motivation (e.g., being naturally motivated) is hampered by extrinsic motivation (e.g., being motivated by possible rewards). The truth is: extrinsic motivation can, and often does cultivate intrinsic motivation. The principles of ABA suggest that we are more likely to enjoy the things that are associated with rewards, even after those rewards are no longer available.
Think of the eating habits of young children. Most young children are not “intrinsically” motivated to try new foods. However, when provided with praise from parents, and perhaps a preferred treat, children become motivated to try them. Over time, they come to naturally enjoy many of the foods, with or without the promise of a treat.
We all receive rewards in our daily lives that reinforce our behavior. The clearest example of this is receiving a paycheck for hard work. Though many people truly enjoy their jobs, most would not work 40 hours a week simply for the “intrinsic” reward of doing so. The extrinsic reward of a paycheck is what ultimately motivates people to go to work everyday. So why prevent our students from earning something for their hard work?