A moderate financial incentive can increase effort, but not intelligence test performance in adult volunteers

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Abstract

A positive correlation between self-reported test-taking motivation and intelligence test performance has been reported. Additionally, some financial incentive experimental evidence suggests that intelligence test performance can be improved, based on the provision of financial incentives. However, only a small percentage of the experimental research has been conducted with adults. Furthermore, virtually none of the intelligence experimental research has measured the impact of financial incentives on test-taking motivation. Consequently, we conducted an experiment with 99 adult volunteers who completed a battery of intelligence tests under two conditions: no financial incentive and financial incentive (counterbalanced). We also measured self-reported test-taking importance and effort at time 1 and time 2. The financial incentive was observed to impact test-taking effort statistically significantly. By contrast, no statistically significant effects were observed for the intelligence test performance scores. Finally, the intelligence test scores were found to correlate positively with both test-taking importance (rc = .28) and effort (rc = .37), although only effort correlated uniquely with intelligence (partial rc = .26). In conjunction with other empirical research, it is concluded that a financial incentive can increase test-taking effort. However, the potential effects on intelligence test performance in adult volunteers seem limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-516
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Volume109
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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