Rewards. We all love ‘em. Sure, it’s not like you’ll ever turn down your yearly bonus. But don’t you find that the luster of a shiny bonus wears off year after year? That the appreciation you’re meant to feel, now feels almost… expected? 

Regardless of what job you have, we as humans are wired to want growth. And despite what your ex might tell their friends, we know you want to grow as a person. It’s just human nature. Motivations for change aren’t always so cut and dry. Sometimes internal influence propels us forward, but many times it’s external forces that motivate us and give us that little extra push towards success. And hey, either way, you’re headed toward greatness.

Which brings us back to the issue of those bonuses. How are you supposed to reach your full potential at work if you aren’t feeling that daily push? How are you supposed to stay interested in your work and experience growth if you don’t have effective external motivations? Motivation (and the need for it) happens every second, not just once at the end of the year. Many businesses are stuck in a cycle of old bonus incentives and organizational structures that don’t promote growth.

Businesses are built by humans, for humans. So, why not invest in a system created specifically for the human mind? This is where the science of variable rewards comes in.

Caution: Science Ahead

Enter, the quirky behavioral psychologist, B.F. Skinner. Skinner was a professor of psychology at Harvard from 1958-1974. He believed that human behavior is shaped by reward and punishment, an approach he called operant conditioning. By any account, Skinner was an interesting dude. He actually taught pigeons to play ping pong. Ah, the powers of science! While he’s experienced his fair share of controversy and critics, there’s no question that his work changed the game.

What we learned from Skinner is the magic of variable rewards. Skinner discovered a way of rewarding behavior called the variable ratio schedule–or giving rewards at different times to reinforce behavior. An easy example of this is a slot machine. You play the slot machine not knowing when you are going to win. Once you experience the magic of winning, you want to play again and again. Now, imagine if you knew you were going to win every sixth time? Wouldn’t that take the excitement away? 

Rewards given at a variable ratio reinforce behaviors far more effectively than rewards given at a fixed ratio. The response rate to variable ratio reinforcement is very fast and what Skinner calls the “extinction rate” (or the rate at which this reinforcement won’t be effective) is slow. Basically, because of the unpredictability, it’s hard to stop the behavior… because some day, you may win!

How does this help you?

Okay, so before you feel like a lab rat with all this science talk, take a pause. Variable rewards are all around you. In fact, if “life is like a box of chocolates”, isn’t life itself one big variable reward system? 


All grand life philosophy aside, using the psychology of variable rewards can help you achieve even the smallest everyday victories. In life and at work. How many times have you tried to create a habit like “journaling every morning” or “clearing my inbox”? Even though they say that humans are creatures of habit, why does creating habits always seem so hard? We want to improve and #beourbestselves, but somehow new habits just never stick.

Imagine if you had the power of this behavioral science backing all those healthy habits you’ve been meaning to form, but just never seem to have the time. Well, there is an app for that. 

Drum roll please… introducing! This ain’t your parent’s workplace anymore. This is an AI-powered, dopamine-fueled, new way to work that creates impact and… well, is just a lot of fun!


Habits are no small thing. They can impact your daily life in a BIG way and help you become the you you’ve always envisioned. We here at Surprise call that SuccessOS.

Surprise not only helps you achieve your goals by giving you daily Missions that create life-changing habits, but it also helps make work exciting again. It gives you the tools to unlock your next level of Success. Through its interactive and social nature, Surprise helps you become more connected with your team and the company that you’ve chosen to dedicate your time to. It helps keep the “why” in focus.

On top of the tools Surprise gives you for Success, it also brings you the joy of a Surprise Day–a random day that holds the wonder of possibility. The possibility to win fun Surprises and experiences–bringing the exhilaration of the unknown into the workplace. Surprise is the spice of life! 

Technology + the science of variable Surprise = A you that reaches your full potential
Only give Surprise a try if you’re ready to unlock the power of your SuccessOS… and get showered with that dopamine, baby!

Allie Demopoulos is a Content Copywriter at A writer and producer, she believes that humor is the greatest tool and that the best of anything–comedy, music, stories–are experienced in basements. When she’s not creating, you can find her in the electric streets of Manhattan, a place she feels lucky to call home.