Knowing that there’s something to look forward to after that long work shift may propel you to work faster and better, but according to a study featured on, there’s a better way of getting you motivated–by segmenting rewards.

Researchers Scott S. Wiltermuth from University of Sothern California’s Marshall School of Business and Francesca Gino from Harvard University
conducted a series of six experiments where participants were asked to do tasks for either 10 or 20 minutes for a prize, which were to be taken from two different bins. The results showed that people who were allowed to take one item from the first bin and another from a second bin worked longer than those who were told they could take two items from either bin. Researchers believe that the motivation was propelled by the participants’ desire to lower their risk of missing out.

Interestingly, when the participants were presented with four reward bins and were only instructed to get items from two bins, both motivation and performance plateaued, as two of the bins still remained inaccessible.

Wiltermuth concludes, “Even if they (the rewards) are not all that different, making people think they are different can get people to devote increased effort in pursuit of those goals. Creating excitement just simply by categorizing rewards could be a key way to get people to try harder, and devote more time to tasks.”

(Photo by Victor1558 via Flickr Creative Commons)

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