Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Douglas A. Johnson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Heather McGee, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Alyce Dickinson, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Gregory S. Smith, Ph.D.


Bonus, goals, incentives, pay systems, piece-rate, tiered goals


The purpose of this study was to compare the performance of participants under three pay systems when all were given five tiered goals. Seventy-one undergraduate students were randomly assigned to receive either fixed pay, base pay with bonuses, or piece-rate pay. Over the course of six 45-minute sessions, one of which served as a covariate, participants engaged in a computerized simulated medical record data entry task. The primary dependent variable was the average number of correctly completed medical records per session. An increasing relationship was expected to be found between the three groups with respect to the number of correctly completed records, with the fixed pay group performing the worst and the piece-rate pay group performing the best. The results of a rank-based ANCOVA monotone analysis were inconsistent with this hypothesis. A one-factor ANCOVA showed that, while the fixed pay group performed significantly worse than both the base pay with bonuses group and the piece-rate pay group, the latter two groups were not significantly different from one another. These results partially replicated those of Ramos (2020), in which piece-rate pay with tiered goals outperformed fixed pay with tiered goals. The results also indicated that base pay with bonuses, when paired with tiered goals, may result in performance on par (or perhaps even better) than those of piece-rate pay with tiered goals. Finally, a comparison was made between task performance in a laboratory setting (Ramos, 2020) and in a remote setting (this study), finding that the latter resulted in significantly lower performance for both fixed pay with tiered goals and piece-rate pay with tiered goals. However, there were some methodological differences between the two studies which present some confounds that will require further research to truly make the comparison.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access