Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Extreme incentives

We are fond of setting incentives in our household for various activities. Just this week, we decided to make a push on memorising times tables. It needed an incentive on the basis that it was a pretty mindless activity that was hard to justify on any real academic basis but it was just convenient to have these things memorised for the future. The deal was: learn them this week or no Survivor. Suffice it to say, we went through much anger and bargaining before we got to resignation. Of course, we have a few days left to see if it worked.

I wondered if this might have been a bit much until I read this today from Ian Ayres:
When my 7-year-old daughter said she desperately wanted a dog, I told her (in a twist on another Obama story) she could have one if she published an article in a peer-reviewed journal.
Wow, that isn't necessarily attainable when people have to publish to keep their job. That said, apparently it worked! Here is the paper.
Our dog is named Cheby (Shev) in honor of a statistician.
Of course, when you think about it, this seems like an easy incentive compared with those Obama kids who had to get their Dad elected as President in order to get a dog.