Means, Motive and Opportunity

Came across this paragraph from Maria Konnikova’s Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes and thought it was worth sharing with those involved in education:

Motivated subjects always outperform. Students who are motivated perform better on something as seemingly immutable as the IQ test – on average, as much as .064 standard deviations better, in fact. Not only that, but motivation predicts higher academic performance, fewer criminal convictions, and better employment outcomes. Children who have a so-called “rage to master”- a term coined by Ellen Winner to describe the intrinsic motivation to master a specific domain – are more likely to be successful in any number of endeavors, from art to science. If we are motivated to learn a language, we are more likely to succeed in our quest. Indeed, when we learn anything new we learn better if we are motivated learners. Even our memory knows if we’re motivated or not: we remember better if we were motivated at the time the memory was formed. It’s called motivated encoding.

I feel motivation is mostly self-generated, but others can help it along. I find this angle particularly interesting because motivations are not all positive. Staying out of trouble could be motivation enough. Or getting someone to stop nagging at you.

It’s also ironic that the three necessary elements for committing a crime – means, motive and opportunity – may be the same as those necessary for becoming educated.