Date of Award

12-1990

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Jack Michael

Second Advisor

Dr. Alyce Dickinson

Third Advisor

Dr. Dale Brethower

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

A number of studies has shown that providing extrinsic rewards for performing an "intrinsically interesting" task decreases an individual's subsequent interest in that task when the rewards are no longer available (e.g., Deci, 1971, 1972; Lepper, Greene, & Nisbett, 1973). Based on these results, many have argued that extrinsic rewards decrease an individual's "intrinsic motivation." A fundamental premise of this argument is that "extrinsic" and "intrinsic motivation" are functionally different, a distinction that is not supported by a behavioral analysis. This study examined whether similar subsequent decrements in task performance would be observed when a behavior is maintained by one type of external reinforcer and a second type of reinforcer is provided for a period o f time and then made unavailable; thereby examining the effects of extrinsic reward on "extrinsic motivation."

Two subjects completed all critical phases of this study. One subject showed a performance decrement following the termination of the second reinforcer. These results indicate that the interference in performance is not limited to situations where extrinsic rewards are provided for performing an "intrinsically interesting" task. Rather, this interference can occur when an extrinsic reinforcer is provided, and later removed, contingent upon performing a task maintained by another extrinsic reinforcer. These results challenge the distinction between "extrinsic" and "intrinsic motivation."

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