Everyone starts with an ‘A’: Is fear a better motivator than aspiration?

Evidence into Practice

A recent study by the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) argues that teachers should consider giving all students an ‘A’ grade at the start of the year on the basis that there is a natural tendency for people to be more motivated to hold on to something than when they are to try to achieve something. This is proposed (along with a number of other unremarkable suggestions like praising effort rather than ability) as a way of closing the socio-economic gap in academic performance.

RSA report: Action and Research Centre

This suggestion is based upon work by Tversky and Kahneman on decision making which uncovered that we are much more likely to take risks when we have a chance to gain something, but much more risk averse when there is a chance of losing something we possess. To put it simply; fear is more…

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