This is one of the funniest and most interesting scientific studies I’ve read in a long time. Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, wanted to study the effects of substances like caffeine on rats. Before doing so they arranged a variety of tests to determine the natural motivation levels of the rats. The scientists gave the rats the option between easy and difficult tasks with extra sugar pellets offered upon completion of the difficult tasks to determine whether they would naturally choose the easy route or the more rewarding one.
Just like humans, there was significant variation between the inherent motivational level of rats. Some were natural workers and others were serious slackers. The rats were divided into two groups based on their repeat choices: “Workers” and “Slackers.” Then they tested caffeine ingestion to determine whether there was any effect and whether the effects would be different.
Here’s what they found: “Workers” began to slack off after consuming caffeine. “Slackers” remained slackers regardless of caffeine ingestion. Caffeine could not motivate them. So, while there are some benefits of coffee drinking, motivation does not appear to be one of them. The lesson here: if you’re trying to encourage someone to “get the job done” don’t buy them a coffee until after the task is completed.
The study is scheduled for publication in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
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