Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Carrot or the Stick

I have been ruminating lately over the value of administering spankings as motivation to achieve goals and as punishment for failure to achieve them.

About three years ago I was working very hard to prepare for an exam. I knew the actual date of the exam months ahead, and in order to cover all the material, I needed to be very organized and motivated. To assist me, I prepared charts of exactly what I needed to do each week, and kept all the charts in a binder so I could see my progress over the months.

I allocated some time first thing each morning to devote to studying, and
I also set myself a target starting time. As the exam drew nearer the starting time got earlier and earlier. For each day that I was seated, coffee in hand and ready to work, at the predetermined time, I gave myself a sticker at the top of the column for that day. At the end of the week I could look back and see how often I had been ready to start on time.
I wonder what would have happened if, instead of being rewarded for starting on time, I had been punished each time I was late? Would I have been as motivated if I had been threatened with a spanking instead of enticed with a sticker?

It sounds silly to get excited over a little sticker that I gave myself, but that small reward made me smile and encouraged me. Would there have been a reason to punish me for failure? Ron didn't care if I studied or not. It wasn't up to him to control my work habits. My real punishment would have been failing the exam, and I wasn't going to even consider that possibility.

Animals learn more quickly and are eager to please when they are given positive rather than negative reinforcement. Why wouldn't it work that way for people? Maybe if I had been offered a spanking as a reward for being on time, say, five days out of seven, that might have worked as well as stickers.


Greenwoman said...

I've often thought that punishments are not what works for me. Rewards work so much better. And what could be more rewarding than a spanking?

Well...I suppose at this point in my one would be a very sweet reward too. *smiles and winks*

Paul said...

Hermione, good girl spankings were a sweet reward for extra good behaviour, for both of us.
I've always preferred the carrot to the stick, the stick was there to be used, on occasion.
Warm hugs,

dwcmike said...

Hermione: A little too esoteric I think... Sort of like some people having a maintenance spanking once a week, the severity determined by the number of infractions. Just way too much work for us. Takes a lot of the thrill out of a spanking, making it almost work!! UGH!

D said...

Indeed, I love receiving a reward for good deeds accomplished.

But, I am finding my motivation is just as intense (if not more so) that if I don't accomplished said task, that a discipline spanking is in my future.

I think the HOH is the key in this. They must, and have to be able to successfully differentiate a discipline spanking from one that is considered a reward. Otherwise, it can be very confusing and the whole point of the process is lost.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hermione,
I think a spanking is attention from my man. If everything is great, it is positive attention. If I'm in trouble, it is negative attention. The length, severity, frequency, etc. can vary with every spanking regardless of the excuse for giving/receiving one. The whole thing is a game, anyway, so whatever works!

Nice blog post.
P.S. I started a blog today. If you'd like to check it out, you'll find it at:

Michael said...

I think that rewards work better when trying to achieve a goal, Hermione. You demonstrated that yourself by describing the joy you received from earning your stickers. I agree with Paul that good girl spankings might be the best solution.

BTW did you pass your exam?


Em said...

I'm starting to think that punishment spankings don't work for me. It seems I just like them too much for them to be a dis-incentive. Even the completely non-sensual, very harsh, and entirely too long spankings that are used as discipline. Or maybe need is a more accurate description than like.

Of course, maybe the issue is that there's such a long time between my getting into trouble and having to face the consequences that I really don't equate one with the other.

I am a sucker for positive reinforcement though.

Terpsichore said...

positive reinforcement is always good...having two small children we have stickers and marble jars for good behavior and only fair that I have one too when I succeed with something I am trying to accomplish... :-)

K said...

We haven't tried the stick, but I like the carrot just fine. Rewards are so much nicer.