Summary definition

Rewards are a social invention that encourage contributions from individuals to the group’s problem solving processes. Like the other Qualities, Rewards are entirely social inventions and manifest on a Maslovian scale from physical to self actualising in which physical items are socially accredited with value at the lower end and more ethereal rewards such as status symbols and titles represent the upper end of the scale.

Rewards can be distinguished from physical satisfiers in many ways but most obviously through the transfer mechanism: Rewards are transferred as symbols whereas satisfiers of needs are transferred as in-kind materials and services. Food that satisfies hunger is not perceived by the recipient as a Reward even though it can be manipulated to direct behaviour. Rewards direct free behaviour through inducement rather than coercion.

All forms of specialisation require that the group has a means of exchange between specialists that is sufficiently fungible to traverse the gamut of specialisations so the use of physical tokens as symbols of Rewards (money) that can be easily transferred between individuals becomes a necessity. Happily this also makes taxation significantly simpler, as both bartered goods and social rewards are hard to apportion.


The Opportunity to earn Rewards motivates individuals to bring their skills, abilities and efforts to the tasks most valued by their society. Rewards provide claims on assets and elevated social positioning which enable individuals to satisfy desires and aspirations beyond their needs.

Reliable Rewards are necessary to enable specialisation because any individual pursuing their specialisation necessarily forgoes capacity to maintain their own complete set of needs and will require access to the goods and services of others: the baker needs the soldier and vice versa.


Specialisation creates maximum advantage for the group when individuals are motivated to contribute their special abilities, skills and efforts by Rewards. The more specialised the solutions developed to solve problems, the more likely more adept solutions will emerge.

The ability to motivate contributions from highly specialised individuals provides both competitive advantage and the ability to support larger populations which require sophisticated infrastructure dependent on complexes of interconnected specialisations. Once populations have expanded it becomes a requirement to attract individuals to fill the (now necessary) specialist roles and Rewards facilitate this too.


Rewards enable and stimulate two Elements: solutions and selections. In common parlance these are either innovation and market success if you are thinking economically, or policy and power of you are thinking politically.

Problems must have solutions and because the nature of specialisation makes the specialists themselves poor judges of alternative solutions there must be a selection process from the potential solutions to progress to implementation. Larger societies may have the capacity for experimentation in which multiple possible solutions are trialed to further evaluate the suitability of potential solutions.


The ability of Rewards to influence behaviours is entirely dependent on their perceived reliability across physical and temporal dimensions. To strengthen this reliability Rewards are often attributed with claims on the physical assets of the society, which in turn makes Rewards dependent on the reliability of the Quality of Law. Money is the most common manifestation of Reward and therefore the protection of the value of money is a foundational pillar of social structures. For a Reward to direct behaviour it is essential that it is both commonly accepted and temporally durable, and the larger a society becomes the more Rewards need to be institutionalised.


Anything that erodes to the durability of Rewards will have a detrimental effect on the problem solving and solution selecting capacities of the society.

As money is the most common form of rewards it is in the erosion of monetary stability that we can most obviously see the consequences of the failure to protect the value of Rewards. Bouts of inflation that completely erode the value of money normally harbinge the dissolution of social order. However even the more subtle manipulations of modern monetary theories erode the basic faith of the people in the constancy and reliability of their society. There is a direct line between quantitive easing post GFC and the rise of populism a decade later.


The Quality of Rewards is a social manifestation of the basic learning mechanisms found in each individual. Social Rewards depend on and activate the same bio-psychological systems which direct our individual survival and behaviours, which have evolved to be as responsive to social cues as they are to internal conditions.

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