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Dan Ariely’s ideas definitely resonate with me in that they intuitively explain our underlying psychology and behavior and are thus something I can easily relate to and connect with. When he talks about the notion that humans are motivated to work by a lot more than money, and that we need our efforts and labor to produce some meaningful byproduct, I can easily think back to my own experiences that prove this to be true. For example, a coding assignment I was working on last year did not save properly and was thus deleted, meaning my efforts and work up to that point were essentially for nothing. Though a relatively minor incident, I still found the lack of a meaningful product to be extremely demotivating. Along these lines, what makes me feel good about my schoolwork is the fact that I can spend hours laboring on an assignment, and in the end, I have a finished product that I am proud to call my work. This finished product then gets recognition from a professor who takes time to acknowledge my work, analogous to the example Ariely explained when participants were happier when their Lego structures were recognized as opposed to disassembled. Obviously, the greater the recognition I receive (the higher the grade), the better I feel about the effort I put into that final product.


What makes me feel good about my DukeEngage work this summer is, again, that my work is meaningful and valued. Though I am not being compensated directly, my efforts and labor are recognized by my superiors and go towards helping others in a less fortunate environment, making me feel that my efforts are valuable and can help create a difference. I can directly form a connection between my work and some end product that makes a difference in others’ lives, and thus, I am motivated and encouraged to put in effort and feel good about what I am doing. Though at the core, what makes my schoolwork and DukeEngage work feel good is a recognized and valuable end product, my DukeEngage work feels more personally meaningful because of what that end product is being used for. In a school environment, the end product of my work is returned as one of many other letter grades, whereas in my DukeEngage work, the end product is being used to help impact others. This creates a more emotional attachment because my labor is being utilized to reach others globally, as opposed to just being one of many factors that influences a numerical GPA.  As a result, DukeEngage work is more meaningful to me because I feel that it is more valuable and fulfilling—again proving true what Ariely explains motivates us humans to work.