European paleontologists in nineteenth-century China learnt a rather harsh lesson on how rewards can drive the wrong behaviours.
Seeking to acquire scarce dinosaur bones, they paid villages in bone fragments. The result?
Supply responded. They got exactly what they were rewarding – more bone fragments.
Just one problem. When peasants found dinosaur bones, they would take perfectly formed large specimens and smash them up to increase the number of pieces they could sell.
Pretty sure that’s not what the paleontologist were hoping to encourage.
Story Source: Scarcity: The True Cost of Not Having Enough