Giving positive feedback works best if you give it irregular…

I believe in giving positive feedback. While doing research for a big post that explains how to use these positive educational techniques with your (agile) team, I encountered this scientific fact:

Giving constant positive feedback works less good as positive feedback given at variable ratio or with a variable interval.

In fact people that are giving constant positive feedback, have a hard time when things go not as they want. Their frustration level is much lower.
Aggggh my eldest boy frustration level is not as high as we want. So this tells me we have stimulated it.

When I think about it,I should have known as the opposite I know:

The consistency of the “punishment” is very important.If you are not consistent with a punishment it will not work. A lot of parents (and team leaders) have a problem doing this. What they forget is that every time they don’t punish the children (Team members) get a negative ratification when the punishment does not follow the behavior. These people are then surprised they don’t get the desired effect.

Let’s look at a few examples:

candymachine When you put money in a candy machine and you get no candy.==> you stop immediately . You know that this is not normal.

When the candy machine works:

Put in money   ==> action

you get candy. ==> constant positive feedback

When this does not happen: we stop immediately.

Now look at this gambling machine:

gamblingMachineImagine it is broken. You put money in it. You get nothing back. What will you do?

Try again?
When the 1 arm bandit works:

Put in money   ==> action

you win or not  ==> positive feedback is given at a variable ratio. So we don’t give in that fast.

Source:Psychology Marc Brysbaert