Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

2020 Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Social Incentives

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24612-3_1834



Social incentives concern a broad range of interpersonal rewards and motivations that encourage people to behave in a socially valued and approved manner. Social incentives include projecting a positive social image and reputation, gaining social acceptance, and gaining a better place in the social hierarchy.


Two types of incentives are often considered as the underlying causes of behavior – economic incentives and social incentives (Buss 1983). While economic incentives refer to clear and easily quantifiable monetary benefits that one can gain from performing a specific behavior, social incentives are more loosely defined interpersonal rewards and motivations for behaviors which are usually socially valued.

The idea that social incentives can motivate behaviors is based on the notion that human beings are social animals with a strong need to belong (Baumeister and Leary 1995). This notion...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Catherine Cottrell
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Social SciencesNew College of FloridaSarasotaUSA