Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Alyce M. Dickinson

Second Advisor

Dr. Jack Michael

Third Advisor

Dr. Al Poling

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


Individual productivity was compared under an individual monetary incentive system and a 10-member group monetary incentive system. Subjects were 20 college students, assigned to two 10-person groups. Subjects sorted cards punched with varying patterns of holes onto boards with corresponding wooden dowels. The number of cards sorted was the main dependent variable. A within-subject alternating treatments design was used, with individual and group monetary incentives alternating across 14, 20-minute sessions. Individual performance did not differ significantly under the two incentive systems. Further, although high performers earned less money under group incentives, they did not lower their performance accordingly, nor did low performers increase their performance as a result of increased earnings on group contingencies. In a post-study questionnaire, subjects reported equal satisfaction with the two pay systems. However, when asked which incentive system they would prefer to work under in the future, all of the high performers chose the individual incentive system, while low performers chose the group incentive system. Results suggest that although the relationship between performance and pay is stronger with individual incentives than with group incentives, small group incentives may maintain performance equally well. Nonetheless, high performers may prefer to work under individual incentive systems in which their pay is directly related to their performance.

Off-campus Download