A thought about interactive development environments
As a followup to yesterday's entry:
One of the reasons that interpreters and other interactive, immersive development environments improve your productivity may be indirect: by giving you rapid feedback, they give you the feeling that you're getting things done, which in turn improves your motivation and morale.
(And of course this is addition to the direct fun you get from having shiny flashing things happening right here, right now.)
Of course, this is just a feeling of productivity; it may or may not be real productivity. Which may explain the eternal appeal of various work avoidance techniques like rearranging your desktop; there too you are getting feedback, so the little circuit in the back of your mind that equates feedback with productivity can be happy.
(I find it interesting that serious work avoidance behaviors in people I know often involve rearranging things, as opposed to more passive activities like reading LiveJournal.)
You can then extend this to how people who aren't getting anywhere and are getting demotivated and unenthused as a result, seem especially prone to such avoidance techniques. They're not just avoiding yet another rewardless slog, they're also getting some sort of 'look! things happening! I must be productive!' reward from the back of their mind.
We do know that people like doing things that have visible effects. For example, people often report that they're faster navigating through text with the cursor keys than using the mouse, despite the actual objective measurements generally saying otherwise.
(Disclaimer: I am half thinking out loud here, and may be talking through my hat (or my bicycle helmet).)