a word that means "motivated solely by reward".

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Vitance, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. Vitance

    Vitance Junior Member

    English
    For instance, if someone were to make a decision based on which option would bring him the greatest reward, but would not have done the same thing if there were no reward, e.g., not doing chores or work unless they'll be rewarded or praised for doing so.

    I think this word therefore expresses never doing anything for its own sake: never working just because the work has to get done. This is a very specific word I'm looking for. I know how to use dictionaries and thesauri, so I'm not looking for simple words like "greedy" or "self-serving". And I know that such a word exists, I just can't remember it, so I'm not asking if there is one, I'm asking for help recalling what it is.

    Thank you so very much if you can help me.
     
  2. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    Could it be mercenary? This would mean that his real motivation to do anything is a wish to earn money.
     
  3. Vitance

    Vitance Junior Member

    English
    As well as "mercenary" fits the description, it isn't the word I was looking for. I know "mercenary" isn't a word I've ever used. Thank you for the option though. I can use that as a starting point for finding synonyms.

    More answers are therefore appreciated!
     
  4. MilkyBarKid Senior Member

    British English
    Incentivize
     
  5. kengwilson

    kengwilson Senior Member

    Germany
    English from the North of England
    Hallo, Vitance. Could it be that you've got the word "altruistic" in somewhere at the back of your mind (which is of course the exact oposite of the sense you're trying to convey)? But we all know how unpredictably the mind works sometimes.

    KGW
     
  6. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    How about self-seeking?

    Please give us a sentence in which you would use this word. Give a specific example of the kind of behavior that you have in mind, and the sort of reward the person expects. Otherwise, this risks becoming a open-ended guessing game, which we don't allow.
     
  7. Vitance

    Vitance Junior Member

    English
    Sorry, Cagey. You're right, I should have done that in the first place.

    Okay, first of all the reward isn't necessarily money. In the person's mind they can be thinking, "I'll do it if there's something in it for me." Like kengwilson said, it's the exact opposite of altruistic, doing the right thing without expecting compensation. In that way the compensation can be something as simple as, "I'll watch your cat for the week if you help me move my couch."

    The word, as far as I remember, can be used to describe the action as well as the person. It's definitely an adjective, and I'm not sure whether it ever occurs as a noun.

    The context that made me struggle to remember the word was something like the Bill and Ted phenomenon: A kid wants to be a famous musician, but isn't willing to work to become skilled with his instrument so that he'll have a chance at fulfilling his dream. In his mind, it's only worth working if success is already guaranteed. "This can be described as [adjective] behaviour."

    I realise this is a troublingly specific word.
     
  8. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    self-seeking EDIT I see that has already been suggested.

    egotistical
    egocentric
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  9. kengwilson

    kengwilson Senior Member

    Germany
    English from the North of England
    "Materilalistic"?
     
  10. Vitance

    Vitance Junior Member

    English
    I suppose this isn't getting us anywhere. I don't want to keep up this "guessing game". Sorry everyone, and thank you for trying! But it looks like this will never have an answer.
     
  11. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    "Calculating"?
     
  12. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
  13. Vitance

    Vitance Junior Member

    English
    Thank you, everybody. I've figured out what the word is! I was thinking of "expedient"—an expedient person is one who does something only because it will gain him an advantage. I'm really happy that I've remembered. Cyberpedant, I don't think I'd have remembered without your suggestion of the Reverse Dictionary; I saw a word beginning with "exp-" that triggered it.

    Thank you all so much!
     
  14. babybackribs Senior Member

    US
    English/Spanish
    expedient is a great 50-cent word, as they say! here are some other compound words (but expedient is great!):

    self-interested, extrinsically-motivated, self-regarding...
     
  15. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    I would not say that a person was expedient; instead, it would be his actions that were expedient.
     
  16. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I agree. A self-serving or self-interested person would take actions that were expedient (from his point of view). A calculating person would choose the action that gave him the greatest advantage. To me, "calculating" has to do with power and strategy while "self-serving" has to do with reputation and reward.
     
  17. kengwilson

    kengwilson Senior Member

    Germany
    English from the North of England
    A quick look at some online sources rather confirms the fears of GreenWhiteBlue and JamesM that "expedient isn't going to help you, Vitance. I, too, doubt whether the adjective is usable to limit a person. Even " an expedient ally" is stretching a point (it's not the ally that is self-serving in your sense - just useful to have).

    KGW
     
  18. Vitance

    Vitance Junior Member

    English
    Okay, well, regardless, expedient is the word I was trying to remember. Whether I described the word properly or not, this issue has been put to rest. Stop making suggestions, stop trying to correct me: expedient was, without a doubt, under all circumstances, and indubitably the word I was thinking of!

    I concede that it was incorrect to say it could be used with people. I thank you for taking such an interest, but geez. The issue isn't whether I used it correctly. Matter solved. Case closed. Lay your "fears" to rest.
     

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