Researchers whose research tells us more about the researchers than anything else

Via Althouse, one of my must-read blogs, comes this story about research purporting to show that white Americans are motivated differently from Asian-Americans.

Piffle says I.

The study itself is fundamentally flawed. In no case were students asked to behave independently. They were all given a task by the researchers. If any question at all was answered, it was “how do we best trick people into doing what we want them to do?”

This is a very narrow subset of motivation, and may explain some of the discrepancies between cultures in this setting. Does one wish to manipulate Asian-Americans? Either approach will work. For white Americans, it would seem that cloaking the task in words suggesting independence is preferable.

This says precisely nothing about how people behave when left to their own devices. So, we see similar streaks of Independence and interdependence in both groups as they live their lives.

I submit that the study tells us more about the researchers than anything else. They seem unaware of the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Do I detect the sulfurous odor of Skinner?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s