Figuring Out Preference or Balancing Out Effort: Do Inferences from Incentives Undermine Post-Incentive Motivation
30 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2019
Date Written: January 15, 2018
Do financial rewards undermine motivation by prompting people to infer from their incentivized choices that they only did a task because of the incentive? We examine this prediction of the overjustification hypothesis by manipulating the salience and availability of initial (i.e., pre-incentive) task attitudes in repeated choices between tasks. While reminding people about their initial task attitude prior to the incentive arrested post-incentive disengagement, we fail to find persistent disengagement after an incentive ends, when initial attitudes are not salient. Contrary to the prediction of overjustification that the negative longerterm effects of incentives will be magnified when all of a person’s initial choices to do a task were incentivized, we also find no evidence of any post-incentive reduction in that case. Overall, our results contradict inferential accounts of post-incentive behavior and instead point to the role of perceived effort and justification. We discuss implications for dynamic consumer responses to promotions.
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