Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Reward Versus Bribe

I remember attending a talk by Dr Xavier Amador in which he described paying his brother $5 to take his meds.

There is a difference between rewards (positive reinforcement) and bribes.

You reinforce a behaviour but you bribe a person.

bribe /brīb/
verb: persuade (someone) to act in one’s favor, typically illegally or dishonestly, by a gift of money or other inducement.

re·in·force·ment /rēinˈfôrsmənt/
noun: the process of encouraging or establishing a belief or pattern of behavior, especially by encouragement or reward.

This is used with children with autism and this site explains it well in regards to children.

Or, “financial incentives.”


This can also be reversed in various ways like a punishment or financial disincentive, or in my case an added financial responsibility.

My mother started charging me rent some time after I started working full time. I resented it because the rule wasn’t applied consistently to all children, and I felt it delayed me saving up for my own apartment.

In hindsight she was doing me a favor. I think the lesson is creativity in incentives and disincentives can be rewarding, but I think it’s important to design them well and stick to your guns.

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I stole this from another website and did not get the authors name so can’t contribute it to them but it makes sense too.

“Positive reinforcement increases behaviors. Bribery influences and corrupts a person. These are not the same.”