Proven: Pizza Can Make You More Productive

What a glorious time to be alive

August 30, 2016 9:00 am

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the Jeff Bezos’s “two-pizza rule.”

It’s a smart productivity trick the Amazon CEO lives by: never have a meeting where two pizzas can’t feed the whole group. The hack not only promotes highly engaged small group work, but it also helps avoid the pitfalls of groupthink discussion.

A few years later, we can now confirm Bezos was on to something, at least when it came to the pizza.

A social experiment from psychologist Dan Ariely’s new book Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations suggests pizza is the best incentive when it comes to increasing productivity in the workplace.

The experiment, which involved employees at an Intel factory in Israel, went like so: groups of workers were sent three messages at the start of the week, promising either free pizza, a small cash bonus or compliments from their boss. There was also a control group that received no message at all.

After the first day, pizza, obviously, was the top motivator, increasing output by 6.7 percent versus the control group, followed closely by compliments from a supervisor. Strangely enough, on the second day, those in the bonus group performed 13.2 percent worse.

As pointed out by New York Magazine, the study is an interesting look at what truly motivates people — because it ain’t just money. What’s easy to overlook, Ariely argues, is the motivational power in the logic of appreciation, as demonstrated by the increased productivity from the compliments and the pie.

For his next experiment, maybe Ariely could test plain versus pepperoni. 

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