Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




The purpose of the present study was to compare the effects of three different pay systems on human monitoring performance. With increasing automation, monitoring tasks are becoming increasingly common, but methods of compensation that will promote good performance remain unexamined. Although hourly pay is typically used, data suggest that contingent pay may be more effective in motivating high levels of performance.

In the current study, six undergraduate students, four females and two males ranging in age from 19 to 21 years, performed a monitoring task analogous to one performed by a security guard. Specifically, subjects observed a television screen and detected the presence of signals that were superimposed on video tapes. Using a within subject withdrawal design, subjects were exposed to three pay conditions: (1) hourly pay, (2) hourly pay plus a performance-contingent monetary bonus, and (3) hourly pay in combination with the bonus and a financial penalty contingent upon poor performance.

The two contingent-pay conditions resulted in only inconsistent improvements in monitoring performance over the hourly pay condition. Implications of the task, subjects, setting, and experimental procedures employed in the present study for researchers and practitioners are discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons