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Researchers have found that when it comes to trying to get employees to get fit, the threat of losing money is a more effective motivator than promising extra pay. Researchers examined 281 adult employees and put them into three groups: a lottery incentive, a loss incentive of $140 per day, and a gain incentive of $140 per day. The goal was for each employee to achieve 7,000 steps per day.
Over the 13 week trial, only the loss incentive group had a significantly higher proportion of exercise participation. This showed that negative incentives were more effective motivators than positive rewards. However, neuroscientists believe that using this as a long-term strategy could demotivate people from exercising as constant threats of punishment could be detrimental to morale and self-esteem.
These findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on February 16, 2016.