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

Judy Cameron, W. David Pierce

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This article reviews research on the effects of reinforcement/reward on intrinsic motivation. The main meta-analysis included 96 experimental studies that used between-groups designs to compare rewarded subjects to nonrewarded controls on four measures of intrinsic motivation. Results indicate that, overall, reward does not decrease intrinsic motivation. When interaction effects are examined, findings show that verbal praise produces an increase in intrinsic motivation. The only negative effect appears when expected tangible rewards are given to individuals simply for doing a task. Under this condition, there is a minimal negative effect on intrinsic motivation as measured by time spent on task following the removal of reward. A second analysis was conducted on five studies that used within-subject designs to evaluate the effects of reinforcement on intrinsic motivation; results suggest that reinforcement does not harm an individual’s intrinsic motivation.