What is the Overjustification Effect? 

You might believe rewarding someone frequently will keep them motivated, but this isn’t always the case. Although rewarding someone is one-way people show their appreciation, there are times when doing so might harm the receiver. You must know what is the overjustification effect.

The general definition of the Overjustification Effect is that people who enjoy doing something start to lose their intrinsic motivation when given a reward. Think for a moment about an activity you find incredibly enjoyable. For instance, if you enjoy playing badminton or table tennis, you don’t do it in exchange for money or rewards. You simply enjoy playing because it gives you pleasure within. Receiving rewards for something you already find enjoyable will reduce your motivation to discover more about it in-depth, and your willingness to engage in those activities will decrease.

When Does It Happen?

The overjustification effect happens when a person’s intrinsic motivation to engage in a behavior or activity is reduced by an external inducement.

How does the Overjustification Effect Reduce Motivation? The overjustification effect may significantly impact your intentions and behaviors. Let’s examine this effect and how it influences behavior.

Overjustification effect example: To conduct your research, divide a group of people in half. Then, compare the motivations of the two groups. One group will be paid for sketching a specific object, while the other will not. 

After the completion of the task, while you remove extrinsic motivation, which would be money, you’ll see that the group that had previously been paid to sketch that object exhibited less motivation to finish the task than the group that had never been paid and had drawn it merely for enjoyment. 

Causes Of The Overjustification

It occurs when people are more motivated by the rewards from outside of themselves than by their enjoyment of the action. People believe that their engagement in the activity results from the rewards received from others rather than their appreciation of the behavior.

According to self-determination theory, there are three elements for developing intrinsic motivation: Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness.

How To Avoid The Overjustification Effect?

What is the Overjustification Effect?

When companies decide how to encourage their staff in a way that preserves intrinsic motivation, managers should consider this overjustification impact.

Rewards are a practical approach to motivating workers. Although it doesn’t always work for every task. The study suggests that rewards should be given for tedious tasks because this will maximize the effectiveness of extrinsic motivation.

Overjustification Effect: In The Employees

Is there an overjustification impact in the workplace? Employees frequently exhibit the overjustification effect. If employees start to accomplish everything purely based on extrinsic motivation, there are high chances of decreased productivity and less of a desire to learn and explore. It is essential to never leave intrinsic motivation out of whatever you do. That’s why managers should overcome the overjustifications effect. They should refrain from always rewarding employees who rely solely on extrinsic motivation to accomplish anything.

Overjustification Effect: In Babies

The psychologists were interested in determining whether the overjustification effect in babies is a thing. They wanted to know if it’s present in infants between the ages of 3 and 5. They divided the drawing task into three conditions. With the first one instructing the children that they would receive a special ribbon as a reward for drawing. In the second scenario, they didn’t inform them of their reward until they had finished drawing. In the last condition, they received no details regarding prizes. They continued this activity for almost a week.

The psychologists concluded that when children are aware of a reward. They believe they only enjoy drawing because of the prize rather than the activity itself. When a reward is no longer an option, the intrinsic enjoyment of the action does not return. They further said that the overjustification effect only appears when anyone expects a reward for any activity. 


Rewards and incentives don’t always result in increased motivation and excellent performance. It can be harmful to exist morale and have unexpected repercussions to introduce them without understanding how they affect human behavior. Therefore, don’t implement a reward system without giving it some thought. Even though you may have the best intentions when rewarding top achievers, the incentive may unintentionally lower morale.


What are examples of the overjustification effect in real life?

Someone who likes playing card games with their friends dislikes playing cards now because their friends place bets on which team would win.

What are the negative consequences of the overjustification effect?

When we are given a reward or money for doing anything, it can make us give up on activities that we genuinely believe to be intrinsically valuable.

What is an example of the overjustification effect?

If we give rewards to children for studying and drawing, they are less likely to desire to learn or draw for enjoyment in the future 

What is the overjustification effect in AP psychology?

In AP Psychology, a paradoxical effect occurs when rewarding someone for their accomplishment can result in decreased interest in the activity rather than increased interest.

How does the overjustification effect work?

The overjustification effect is when we receive a reward for completing a task, such as a prize or money, we tend to lose our intrinsic motivation to finish it. 

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