Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Jack L. Michael

Second Advisor

Dr. Alyce Dickinson

Third Advisor

Dr. Phillip Duncan

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Al Poling


The purpose of the present study was twofold. First, the experiment investigated the occurrence of social loafing behavior when individuals are engaged in a production task. Social loafing is defined as a decrement in individual performance when working co-actively with a group. Second, the experiment compared the effectiveness of three incentive pay systems (linear, positively and negatively accelerating) in eliminating social loafing behavior and in generating performance levels higher than those generated by a flat or hourly pay system.

Sixteen undergraduate students, all female, participated in twenty-five 15- minute work sessions in which they made widgets from pop beads. Subjects were paid based on their productivity during each session, received $10.00 for participating in a debriefing session and a $15.00 bonus for completing the study. Using a within subject design, subjects were exposed to four pay conditions: (1) flat individual, (2) flat group, (3) incentive individual, and (4) incentive group.

The absence of statistical significance between mean productivity during the flat individual and group conditions indicated that social loafing did not occur. However, given seven subjects produced fewer widgets during the flat group condition, some degree of performance decrement was observed. This decrement was eliminated by the incentive pay systems.

A systematic relationship between pay and productivity emerged in that the incentive pay systems generated higher levels of performance than did the flat pay systems. In addition, the incentive pay systems differentially affected performance levels and cost-per-widget. These findings suggest that it was not the size o f the incentive which controlled performance, but rather the fact that there was a pay-for performance contingency in place.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access