Does the reward-punishment thing really work?

What I’ve always found interesting between me and Dylan is the fact that we seldom have the same opinion about something.  Some people actually view that as a bad thing, that  we don’t have much in common.  But it’s actually that difference that made us grow as better people, respecting each other in such a level that no one won’t be able to do.  At least not without years of practice. :)

One of the things we have constantly argued about (and I have come to agree with him on this one after some time) is the concept of reward-punishment.  This concept is often defined by psychologists as reinforcement.  You literally reward yourself (or others, usually kids) immediately after doing something good or accomplishing a task, in hopes of creating a pattern, making the accomplishments come quicker and sooner.  For a more detailed explanation on this concept (though I highly doubt that you’ll need one because my readers are not that dumb), just click here.

Well, my brother wasn’t able to graduate on time because of a thesis that he wasn’t able to pass.  So he had to take it up again this summer.  Thankfully, he finished it, passed it and now, is bugging my mother for his "reward" (which is an iPhone by the way).  

My side (at first):  I believe he deserves the reward.  He worked hard on his thesis, it was something that was very complicated, and I give him kudos for not giving up.  Albeit it took him 4 major revisions and 4 re-defense fora, it is a good thing that he was able to see through it all.

Then Dylan aired his:  Why are you going to reward someone for doing something he was really supposed to do?  He’s a child.  He’s privileged to receive education.  He’s obliged to finish that privilege the soonest possible time.  He didn’t.  So he tried again because he’s obliged.  Because he’s a student.  And a student stops being a student once he graduates.  And he did.  So why are you going to reward someone for accomplishing something he’s obliged to accomplish in the first place?

At first, I was quite upset.  He was saying that my brother didn’t deserve the phone.  But then, when you look at it from that point of view (as in not being related to my brother), he’s right.  People should only be rewarded for going the extra mile.  It’s like finishing a 10-year course in seven years.  Or even nine.  Rewards should come for doing something extraordinary when only the ordinary is expected.

But what do you think?

Me and my group mates after working on a credit application that wasn’t needed. Hahaha.

One thought on “Does the reward-punishment thing really work?

  1. Anonymous says:

    congrats to your brother for finishing his thesis and on his upcoming graduation!
    but friend, i would have to agree with dylan on this one. rewarding someone, in this case your brother, for doing something he really was supposed to do would be like giving a performance bonus to a government official who did not steal or engage in corruption. that is expected of him. it is his responsibility. so it kinda irks me to see banners that say for example, “maraming salamat pgma sa footbridge na ito.” parang naman! tungkulin niya yon. it’s her job. wala tayong utang na loob dahil ginawa niya ang kanyang trabaho.
    but then again, if your brother promised himself he’ll get himself an iphone upon graduation, then great! no issue there. it’s like that time i said i’ll buy that zara jacket after i finish module 400 or something.

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