Here is a fantastic animation which all of you should watch, even if I have already sent it to you twice. And here are some of the most interesting things it says:
For tasks which involve any sort of higher cognitive function, paying people more for them will decrease performance.
If you really want people to perform well at complex cognitive tasks, the thing to do is "pay them enough that they don't have to worry about money," and then incentivize them with autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
There's so much interesting in these few concepts that I can barely begin to unpack, but here's two things.
Escapism: From Harry Potter to Grey's Anatomy, from Pern to Stephen King to Lord of the Rings to Twilight, it seems to always offer a world where we can fantasize ourselves into lives of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Often in fantasy contexts mastery is about the main character's slow development of their unusual supernatural abilities; often in romance stories, the purpose given to the main character is simply to love and be loved.
In virtually all cases, autonomy is key; even if the characters we relate to are trapped in narrow and precarious situations, their unique abilities make their choices wider (or at least feel wider, because they are so different) than our own. If you find yourself constantly drawn to escapism (like I do), it seems like a fair bet that the characters you are reading about give you a much more satisfying sense of mastery, autonomy, and purpose than your own life.
Enoughness: I want to know what it means to pay people well enough that they don't have to worry about money. This is fantastically interesting to me, because I'm interested in human flourishing--in seeing people reach their potential--and understanding what kind of material support is needed in order for flourishing to happen seems paramount. Here's what I've come up with.
People will probably worry about money if they perceive that a lack of money is preventing them from having one or more of these things:
Medical care, including pain relief and some preventative care
Satisfying emotional self-expression
Opportunities for personal and professional growth; choices about livelihood. This includes needs like education, variety, and adventure.
A sense of belonging and respect in their community
Satisfying relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners and/or potential romantic partners
Opportunities for meaningful work, including the opportunity to raise children with resources they consider sufficient for the task
I have a theory that if people felt these needs were being met, necessity creep--people's rising standards of what material goods are essential to their existence--would be relatively easy to control. What do you all think?