Brain scans reveal who will help you achieve online success

Looking inside our head provides answers for Internet business owners

Looking inside our head provides answers for Internet business owners trying to achieve online success

Bankers at Lloyds will be deleriously happy today. They have returned to profit after being in the doldrums; and that means – you guessed it – bonuses….! Whoopee…! Here come the rich times again for the bankers. City executives argue – and the Government foolishly seems to agree – that bonuses motivate staff to succeed even more. If you don’t pay bonuses, so the argument goes, you don’t motivate those brilliant bankers and therefore you don’t have economic success.

It sounds nice in theory – but there is not a jot of scientific evidence to support it. Indeed, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that people are not motivated by reward. Thankfully, a new study from Washington University has been able to use brain scanning techniques to find out what actually happens inside our heads when we receive rewards for achieving success.{footnote}Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 26th April 2010{/footnote} And the research shows that people who are motivated to succeed are not motivated by individual rewards.

What the study demonstrated is that people who do respond to winning at something have their brain’s reward system permanently turned on. They do not need any kind of reward in order to motivate them towards success; their brain is in a permanent state of “I want to achieve”. These people appear driven to success, regardless of the rewards. It suggests, if the City bankers are right, that rather than having to motivate their staff towards success using rewards, that they are actually choosing the wrong kind of people to work in the banks. If their staff are only motivated by rewards, it implies they are hiring the wrong kind of people. What they need are people who are, as this study demonstrates, permanently wired for success regardless of reward.

It also has implications for anyone trying to achieve things online. Achievement motivated individuals appear to do well online. They continue to strive for every greater success, almost regardless. They do not appear to suffer from the set-backs and neither do they stop once a “reward”, such as a sales target, is achieved. Instead, they just keep on going trying to do better and better and more and more. Some of the leading Internet Marketers are amongst this group. They simply cannot stop themselves from trying to win at the Internet game – they just keep on going, even if no reward is in sight.

Those are precisely the kind of people you need to help your online business. Rather than working out complex reward systems – such as commissions for reaching sales targets, or awkward joint venture arrangements – you’d be better of in selecting the right kind of people to work with in the first place. This new study points to the fact that people who are in a constant state of motivation are the ones who will help your online business achieve success – even if you don’t reward them for doing so.

Of course, you are going to pay them for their work. But if you select the right kind of people you don’t have to add in any extra rewards. This brain scan study confirms other psychological work which demonstrates that rewards alone are not motivators for success.

What it suggests is the need for better recruitment or improved choice of partners who can help you succeed online. Rather than looking for people whose eyes light up when you offer them some kind of incentive or some bonus scheme, instead look for the person who simply has to beat you at a game of darts in the pub, or who always wants to win everything. Their internal reward system is likely to be permanently switched on, which means they will help you succeed even if they receive no reward for it. The success in itself appears to be reward enough.

Perhaps the entire world banking crisis would have been averted if the City banks had been staffed with people whose reward system was permanently “on”..?


Get blog posts like this each week

Sign up to receive my weekly blog digest every Monday

Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones


Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
More evidence for the negative impact of social media. "Social Media’s Negative Impact on How We View Our Bodies"… - 2 hours ago
Graham Jones
Web Statistics
Cover page of free report

Weekly Online Business Advice


Get FREE advice to boost your online business EVERY

Saturday morning

And get this free booklet too