Listen On:

  • Apple Podcasts
  • Spotify
  • Apple Podcasts
  • Spotify

Join Pushkin+

Subscribe now to listen ad-free along with other exclusive member benefits from more than 20 Pushkin podcasts!

From school grades to fitness trackers, we’re all being ranked and rated on a daily basis. This is having a huge impact on our happiness and preventing us from living our lives to the fullest. Can giving up on grades radically improve our well-being?

To learn more. . . 

• The Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale

Emma Lord’s FitBit article

The Good Life Center at Yale

Alfie Kohn’s website

Links to references from this episode. . . 

“Back in 1785 all that changed.” For more on Ezra Stiles inventing grades,

Morgan, E. S. (2014). The Gentle Puritan: A Life of Ezra Stiles, 1727-1795.

“This is Emma Lord. She’s writes for”

Lord, E. (2015). 19 Very Real And Emotional Struggles Of Having A Fitbit (Or Does Your Fitbit Have You?). February 11, 2015.

“Back in 1961, Robert Bostrom and his colleagues surveyed more than 200 students on a couple hot-button issues.”

Bostrom, R. N., Vlandis, J. W., & Rosenbaum, M. E. (1961). Grades as reinforcing contingencies and attitude change. Journal of Educational Psychology, 52(2), 112.

“Back in the 70’s, child psychologist Susan Harter tested 6th graders on anagrams just like this.”

Harter, S. (1978). Pleasure derived from challenge and the effects of receiving grades on children’s difficulty level choices. Child Development, 788-799.

“Today, Tracy is the founding Director of The Good Life Center at Yale University.”

“We are facing a real epidemic.”

American College Health Association. American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive Summary Fall 2018. Silver Spring, MD: American College Health Association; 2018.

“Over a thousand students enrolled the first time I taught it.”

“Credit/D is the Yale version of Pass/Fail.”

“Alfie’s classic book – Punished by Rewards – was just reprinted to mark its 25th anniversary.”

Kohn, A. (1999). Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The Host

Dr. Laurie Santos

Dr. Laurie Santos is Professor of Psychology and Head of Silliman College at Yale University. Professor and podcast host Dr. Laurie Santos is an expert on human cognition and the…