When Incentives Are Too Enticing

Posted on March 17, 2014

Management research about incentive pay often focuses on whether or not the tactic works to increase productivity.

But what if the promise of a bonus or some other reward works too well?

New neuroscience research from a team of American and European researchers shows that the excitement of a reward might excite people to the point they are unable to adequately complete the task at hand. The study was detailed recently on the Association for Psychological Science's Minds for Business blog.

Participants in the study were monitored for brain imaging to gauge their dopamine levels--the chemical in the brain largely responsible for reward seeking behavior. They were then faced with a brain teaser and were promised either a high or low monetary reward for correct answers on that task.

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Category(s):Workplace Issues

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