The Tricky Work of Uncovering Motivations

by | Nov 8, 2022

An English social researcher, Richard Titmuss, first hypothesized in the 1950’s that if you offer to pay someone to give blood, the blood supply would be significantly reduced.

At the time, people thought he was crazy, but the research later proved him correct.

Studies have since shown that offering to pay people to give blood, in fact, decreases the number willing to donate by almost half.

In follow-up studies, the same clinics allowed the blood donors to contribute the payment to charity, and the trend was then reversed.

The lesson here is that motivation is a tricky thing to tap.

When recruiting, you must figure out what motivates your prospects because it’s the pathway to meeting their unique needs.

But assuming you know the answer is a mistake.

The best recruiters treat each prospect as individuals and discover their motivations by asking lots of open-ended questions and taking the time to actively listen.

Are you wondering what motivated those donors to give less blood when they were paid? Here is what the researchers discovered:

People desire to be esteemed by others and to be seen as ethical and dignified. Rewarding blood donations backfired because it suggested that donors are less interested in being altruistic than in making a buck.

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