Social Psychology and Pickup: The Overjustification Effect and Intrinsic Motivation

Social Psychology and Pickup: The Overjustification Effect and Intrinsic Motivation

Taken from an old folk tale:

An old man lived alone on a street where boys played noisily every afternoon. The din annoyed him, so one day he called the boys to his door. He told them he loved the cheerful sound of the children’s voices and promised them each 50 cents if they would return the next day. Next afternoon, the youngsters raced back and played more lustily than ever. The old man paid them and promised another reward the next day. Again they returned, whooping it up, and the man paid them; this time 25 cents. The following day they only got 15 cents, and the man explained that his meager resources were being exhausted. “Please, though, would you come to play for 10 cents tomorrow?” The disappointed boys told the man they would not be back. It wasn’t worth the effort, they said, to play all afternoon at his house for only 10 cents.

There are many elements in psychology that can explain the behavioral responses of women to AFCs and PUAs. Social psychology offers the theory of the overjustification effect as one underlying reason as to why AFCs fail to elicit desired responses from women.

The overjustification effect – The result of bribing people to do what they already like doing; they may then see their actions as externally controlled rather than intrinsically appealing.

Intrinsic motivation – Motivation to do something out of genuine internal preference and liking.

From his study and development of Inner Game, a PUA comes to fully understand and believe, with every fiber of his being, that women love sex. The act of sex is intrinsically motivated within both men and women. The AFC, on the other hand, fails to truly recognize women’s genuine liking of sex. Therefore, he, in a way, feels compelled to instill an external motivation within her to do the dirty with him.

In the mind of an AFC, women don’t like sex. He comes to this conclusion through his faulty interpretation of social scripts.

Social scripts – Culturally provided mental instructions for how to act in various situations.

Women, from being sexually oppressed by a patriarchal society that has used sex as a competitive resource for too many generations, developed the social script of responding negatively to sexual topics when presented in public situations. Examples of this behavior can be seen whenever a woman responds to a sexual joke in disgust or when she says anything along the lines of, “I’m not a slut” and “I don’t do that on the first date.”

The AFC interprets the social script as “women don’t like sex.” Logically, if you want someone to do something that they don’t like doing, you must compensate them with external rewards. The AFC takes this logical path and compensates women with external rewards such as drinks, dinners, gifts, and an overall attitude of supplication, during the process of courtship. In doing so, the AFC triggers the overjustification effect. When a person is rewarded with external factors to do something he or she already likes, he or she loses sight of his or her intrinsic motivation and justifies his or her actions as “I did it because I was paid to do so.”

Proof of the reality of this effect can be observed in experiments by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan (1991, 1997) at the University of Rochester, by Mark Lepper and David Greene (1979) at Stanford, and by Ann Boggiano and her colleagues (1985, 1987) at the University of Colorado:

Pay people for playing with puzzles, and they will later play with the puzzles less than those who play for no pay. Promise children a reward for doing what they intrinsically enjoy (for example, playing with Magic Markers), and you will turn their play into work.

It is implied that intrinsic motivation is an undeniably more powerful and consistent of a driving force in motivation than any mode of external compensation. In failing to recognize women’s innate desire to have sex, the AFC forces his targets to replace her intrinsic motivations with his inconsistent, incongruent, and desperate offerings of resources.

Social Psychology, ninth edition, by David G. Myers:

When people do something they enjoy, without reward or coercion, they attribute their behavior to their love of the activity. External rewards undermine intrinsic motivation by leading people to attribute their behavior to the incentive.

Myers also points out that “the overjustification effect occurs when someone offers an unnecessary reward beforehand in an obvious effort to control behavior.”

Rosenfeld & others, 1980; Sansone, 1986:

Rewards that seek to control people and lead them to believe it was the reward that caused their effort – ‘I did it for the money’ – diminish the intrinsic appeal of an enjoyable task.

In terms of pickup, this evidence is a clear explanation as to why women feel unappreciative toward AFCs who supplicate to them as a strategy of bedding her. The supplication makes the woman feel less intrinsic motivation, and therefore more jaded, bitchy, and less able to revel in the beauty of pure human desires.

Consciously armed with this knowledge of the overjustification effect, a PUA can keep himself in check to make sure that he isn’t preemptively rewarding a woman with external factors such as IOIs and SOIs for following him in the progressive route toward the mutually pleasurable experience of sex. By acknowledging and reinforcing the woman’s intrinsic motivation (not just for sex, but for all areas of life), the PUA can “leave her better than he found her,” letting her fully enjoy an internal cultivation of her enthusiasm for life.


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  1. Good Shit.


  2. Well written and oh so true.

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