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Reinforcement, Reward, and Intrinsic Motivation: A Meta-Analysis

Paper looks at intrinsic motivation vs extrinsic motivation in context of education, and

comparatives benefits/detriments.
Intrinsic motivation: describes behaviours which are done for no observable reward. The
behaviour itself is the reward.
Extrinsic motivation: describes the opposite, where behaviours are done with a reward
Concept is that if rewards are introduced to reinforce a previously-intrinsic behaviour,
occurrences of said behaviour will drop once the reward stops being meted out. (Ie, kid likes
drawing. You give them candy for drawing. A while later you stop giving candy. Kid will draw less
than they originally did) and some other stuff about this whole process stifling creativity and
promoting stress/low self esteem.

Early Studies.
Experimentation into the effect began with Deci (1971). Experiment (exp) presented
participants (ppts) with a puzzle, the solving of which was judged as an intrinsically motivating
task. 2 phases: in phase 1 both exp and control groups would do 4 presented puzzles. In phase 2 exp
group would be given $10 incentive to complete each puzzle, control group continued without
incentive. Experimenter would step out of room halfway through phase 2, stating that the ppt could
do whatever they wanted, and observe through 1-way mirror what the ppts did. At p < .10 the exp
group interacted less with the puzzles than controls in this time period.
Another experiment using the same paradigm had verbal encouragement (Wow! You're
doing so well on the puzzle! or w/e) rather than money as the phase 2 reward. This time the exp
group spent more time on the puzzle than controls at p < .05

Another study was Lepper, Greene, and Nesbett (1973). measured how long kids would
spend drawing relative to baseline. 3 conditions: one where kids were told they'd get rewards for
drawing using markers, one where the kids received a reward but were not told beforehand that they
would be getting a reward, and control where the children GOT NOTHINGGGG. after this session
the kids would have a free period to draw.
the group 1 marker kids drew less in this period both relative to the other two groups and to
their own baseline, but the group 2 gasp surprise i got a reward!? kids actually drew much more in
the free period relative to their baseline. So it's not as clear cut as reward = impediment of intrinsic

Main designs used for studying this effect.
Before-After Design: Have 2 conditions (between groups), 3 phases. phase 1: measure ppt's
baseline time spent on intrinsic activity. Phase 2: have control group continue as they are, have exp
group be given reward incentive for activity. Phase 3: control group keeps doing their thing, exp
group have the reward incentive rescinded. Then measure to see how long each group spend on
activity in phase 3 conpared to phase 1.
After-Only Design: 2 between-groups conditions, 2 phases. phase 1: have controls do some
assumedly-intrinsic activity, exp group do same activity except with a reward incentive. Phase 2:
after a period of time (10mins-1week) follow up and have both groups do the activity again, without
reward. Basically same as above design except missing phase 1.

Meta-analysis of studies which use these designs are messy, with conflicting results between
studies as to whether rewards do or do not impede intrinsic behaviours. Some deeper sub-analysis
has been done on them to try and figure out wtf is going onlooking at how Types of Rewards,
Reward Expectancy, and Reward Contingency all might contribute to the effectbut the results
come out as incoherent and contradictory.
Within-Subject Designs.
Contentions were raised that the BAD/AOD did not give enough of a timespan in the final
phase to determine whether occurrence of the behaviour had dropped. Also finnickiness about
terminology between 'reinforcer' (must promote behaviour) and 'reward' (a reward, might not
necessarily promote/reinforce behaviour).
Thus within-subj designs happened. Would have multiple sessions where ppt would engage
in intrinsic behaviour. Then would have multiple sessions where reinforcers were introduced for
that behaviour. Then would have multiple sessions where reinforcers were redacted, to measure ppt
engagement in intrinsic behaviour.
Not many studies use this design. Creates circular definitions of what is 'reinforcer' and

to explain the thing
The Overjustification Hypothesis: Idea that if people attribute the cause of their behaviour
to something external, then their motivation to engage in the behaviour drops when that external
thing is removed. So it's all about whether people THINK the behaviour is happening because of
themselves, or because of external factors.

Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Idea that if people's feelings of self-determination over the
task influence how competent they are at it. S-D breaks down into 3 sectors: 'information', 'control',
'amotivation'. More information more competent at task, more motivated to do it. More control
over task more self-determined & motivated to do it (and vice versa if control is external or
taken away). More amotivation (ie, an event or happening which is anti-motivating) shows ppt is
less competent at task, makes them less motivated to do it.
This theory has problems, because how do you define what is and is not 'controlling' or
'informational' or 'amotivational'?
No methods to measure the presence of feelings of self-determination or competence.

Behavioural Accounts: The good ol' three-term contingency, A:B C. So long as A is

NOT 'expectation of reward', the redactions of rewards should have no effect on behaviour B.
Which explains all the weird discrepancy (in some cases reward expectations are acting as A, in
other cases some other discriminant stimulus is).


holy hell this method section. It's a method section for a meta-analysis. It has things in it
you'd expect from the method section for a meta-analysis and is long as hell
coding Reliability 93.4%

- Overall, the majority of studies indicated that rewards decreased intrinsic motivation IF intrinsic
motivation was measured as 'time spent on task during free time period' (but at a level of meta-
analysis effect which is NON-SIGNIFICANT). Rewards facilitated IM if IM was measured as
'attitude toward task' or 'performance (goodness) on task in free time period' (at significant effect).

- effect size on experiments where IM is 'time spent on task' ranged mostly between -0.59 and 0.19.
effect size when IM is 'self-reported interest/enjoyment of task' ranged mostly between -0.19 and

Potential Factors For Interactions

Reward Type. Verbal rewards generally produce positive effects, tangible rewards negative
ones. Interaction means that the reward type influences the effect valence found in TSOT IM (ie,
verbal reward encourages IM, tangible stymies), while attitude/performance IM has positive effects
from verbal rewards (no effect from tangible).

Reward Expectancy. A ppt's expectancy of getting a reward had no effect on

attitude/performance IM, and a negative effect on TSOT IM.

Reward Contingency. The reward's contingency (or lack thereof) of performance on the
task/completion of the task (compared to being given just for participating) had no significant effect
on TSOT nor A/P IM.

Ppts given verbal rewards spend more time on task and enjoy it more.
Ppts unexpectedly given tangible rewards suffer no IM detriments.
Ppts expectedly given tangible rewards for completing a task/attaining a required level of
performance in a task (contingency) will interact with the task at a rate equal to controls, but will
enjoy the task more.
Ppts expectedly given tangible rewards without contingency (ie, just for participating) will
spend less time interacting with the task once rewards are withdrawn, but still enjoy the task

Looking at Results from Single-Subjects Designs (the previously mentionedWithin-Subjects

No significant changes in IM were found between phases 1 and 3.

Discussion Abridged.
Rewards do not appear to harm IM.
This finding works under the CEG theory framework if IM is defined in time spent on task,
but clashes with CEG if IM is defined as performance/enjoyment any rewards should be
detracting from ppt's control and thus impacting their competency at the task.
The findings are compatible with a behaviourist framework. Situations where IM decreases
after the reward is withdrawn can be explained as the reward being a reinforcer, and its absence
prompting a drop in behaviour back to baseline levels. Promises of rewards (reward expectancy)
acts as a discriminating stimulus, and the drop in IM happens because the promise is seen as a bribe
is one explanation, but it does not explain situations where no negative effects come in reward
expectancy conditions.

Verbal praise and positive feedback always good for IM. May as well use it in the real
Rewards are nogood when they are given without any regard to performance quality.