Fascinating research data from over 11,000 cadets entering West Point over the last nine years confirms that not only are people internally motivated, but also that external motivators are actually counter-productive.

Scientists wanted to know which kind of motivation works best — internal motivation or instrumental motivation — internal being the kind of motivation that comes from within, and instrumental being the kind of motivation that comes from external factors. Is one kind of motivation better than another, or maybe, is a combination of both the way to go?

Cadets evaluated their motivation as they entered the Academy and then were tracked after they graduated. The following excerpt from the article captures the main point –

We found, unsurprisingly, that the stronger their internal reasons were to attend West Point, the more likely cadets were to graduate and become commissioned officers. Also unsurprisingly, cadets with internal motives did better in the military (as evidenced by early promotion recommendations) than did those without internal motives and were also more likely to stay in the military after their five years of mandatory service — unless (and this is the surprising part) they also had strong instrumental motives.

The stronger the instrumental motives (external reasons for entering the Academy) the worse the performance and the less committed cadets would be to staying in the military.

I think most people believe that an effective combination of internal and external motivation factors would be most effective. This study, however, argues against that. Choice theory contends that we are always internally motivated. External factors may give us information to consider, but those factors are internally weighed against what we really want.

You can read the New York Times article for yourself at –




If you have read William Glasser: Champion of Choice, why not write your reaction to the book and submit it on Amazon.com. It’s simple to do and the more that respond to the book, the more people will be alerted to its existence. Let’s get the word out about choice theory!

Think about also getting a copy of the book to the book reviewer of the newspaper in your town. Every little bit will help.