Extrinsic reinforcement in the classroom: Bribery or best practice

K. Angeleque Akin-Little, Tanya L. Eckert, Benjamin J. Lovett, Steven G. Little

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The debate over the effects of the use of extrinsic reinforcement in classrooms, businesses, and societal settings has been occurring for over 30 years. Some theorists have cautioned against the use of reward, whereas others have found little, if any, detrimental effect. This article examines the debate with an emphasis on data-based findings. The extrinsic/intrinsic dichotomy is explored along with seminal studies in both the cognitive and behavioral literatures. The results from important meta-analytic studies are presented. From this review, it is concluded that little detrimental effect is found with the use of external reinforcement Readers are given specific recommendations on the appropriate use of reinforcement programs in educational settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-362
Number of pages19
JournalSchool Psychology Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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