Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #200
Lessons from the Lab: Experimental Analyses of Goal Setting, Feedback, and Incentive Pay Systems
Sunday, May 24, 2015
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
201 (CC)
Area: OBM/TPC; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Heather M. McGee (Western Michigan University)
Discussant: Timothy D. Ludwig (Appalachian State University)
Abstract: Although goal setting and feedback are commonly used interventions in Organizational Behavior Management, experimental analyses of the components that influence their effectiveness are much more rare. In this symposium, we will present and discuss the results of four laboratory-based experiments that examine critical components of goal setting, incentive pay systems, and feedback using mixed factorial designs and statistical analyses. First, we will compare the effects of tiered goals to moderate and difficult goals at several levels of ability. Then, we will examine the relative effects of four different pay systems on performance while using tiered goals over repeated sessions. Next, we will explore the interaction between feedback source and goal specificity on performance and feedback-seeking behavior. Finally, the effects of the interaction between feedback accuracy and evaluation type (i.e., positive or critical) on performance will be presented. The symposium will conclude with questions, comments, and applied implications from a discussant.
Keyword(s): feedback, goal setting, incentives
The Effects of Tiered Goals and Bonus Pay on Performance
JESSICA L. URSCHEL (Western Michigan University), Alyce M. Dickinson (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: This study examined the relative effects of tiered goals, difficult goals, and moderate goals on performance when individuals earn bonus pay. Participants were 44 undergraduate students performing a computerized data entry task that simulates the job of a medical data entry clerk. For each session, participants were paid a $4 base salary plus bonus pay contingent on goal achievement. Participants were randomly assigned to three groups: a) a tiered goal level condition, in which participants earned $1 in bonus pay for achieving an easy goal, $2 for achieving a moderate goal, or $3 for achieving a difficult goal, b) a difficult goal condition, in which participants only had the opportunity to earn $3 for achieving the difficult goal, and c) a moderate goal condition, in which participants only had the opportunity to earn $2 for achieving the moderate goal. A picked points analysis revealed that for the low and average performers, tiered and difficult goals produced significantly higher performance than moderate goals. However, the differences were no longer significant during the final experimental session. These results suggest the importance of repeated measures to examine the effects of goals over time.
The Effects of Incentive Pay Systems and Tiered Goals on Performance
DANIEL B. SUNDBERG (Western Michigan University), Alyce M. Dickinson (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Past research has shown that performance contingent monetary incentives are an effective means of increasing performance (Bonner, Hastie, Sprinkle, & Young, 2000; Bucklin & Dickinson, 2001; Condly, Clark, & Stolovitch, 2003; Jenkins, Gupta, Mitra, & Shaw, 1998; Stajkovic & Luthans, 2003). However, there is much less data on the interaction between goals and incentive systems (Jeffrey, Schulz, & Webb, 2012; Latham & Locke, 2013; Lee, Locke, & Phan, 1997; Mowen, Middlemist, & Luther, 1981). The present study examined the relative effects of three incentive pay systems, piece-rate pay, bonus pay, and threshold piece-rate pay, on performance when individuals were given the same five tiered performance goals. A fourth system, wage pay, served as a control. 60 college students were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions and performed a simulated data entry task for 6 45-minute sessions. Performance was assessed both between groups and within groups. Preliminary data suggest that while the incentive pay conditions produced better performance than the wage pay condition, the gap was not as large as expected.
Impact of Feedback Source and Goal Specificity on Work Performance and Feedback Seeking
JULIE M. SLOWIAK (University of Minnesota Duluth), Areanna Lakowske (University of Minnesota Duluth)
Abstract: This research examined the influence of computer monitoring on work performance and feedback-seeking behavior under different conditions of feedback medium and performance goals. As the second in a series of three experiments, this study was conducted in a laboratory setting using a data-entry work task designed to simulate the job of a medical transcriptionist. Undergraduate students attended five 45-minute sessions, and measures of ability and keyboarding skill were collected to use in the analyses. This study used a 2 x 2 factorial design to examine effects of computer monitoring under different conditions of feedback medium (computer-mediated / researcher-mediated) and goal specificity (“do your best” / specific) on both task performance and feedback-seeking behavior. Results indicate that performance was higher, overall, when the participants received specific versus generic goals. Independent of goal type, performance was higher when a researcher delivered feedback versus when the participants, themselves, obtained feedback via the computer monitoring system. This result replicates findings from Experiment 1 in the series. Goal type did not differentially influence feedback-seeking behavior. Discussion of these results, as well as an overview of participants’ levels of stress and satisfaction with feedback medium, will be presented.



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