This video takes a talk by the author Daniel Pink, who writes about work and motivation, and adds some excellent extemporaneous illustration in the style of those UPS commercials, to explain some of the fundamentals of behavioral economics in about 10 minutes. Turns out we may not be motivated solely by money after all.
That three-tiered money incentive study that Pink talks about is also frequently cited by Dan Ariely. And, honestly, I think they both oversell it to make it a more shocking meme. The fact that people get worse at cognitive tasks when they're in a very high-pressure, make-or-break situation isn't surprising. People get nervous. To my mind, the study doesn't come close to invalidating the idea that annual or even quarterly bonuses improve a worker's output. It just demonstrates that you can fluster people with high stakes, and game show producers have known that for decades.
But it's all interesting stuff to think about.