The Effect of High-Stakes Rewards on Performance in High-Stress Situations
Kim, Woo-Jung Amber
Journal of Advanced Student Sciences (JASS)
MetadataShow full item record
Studies have shown that when individuals are motivated - either externally or internally - to complete a task, their respective performance increases relative to the non-reward groups. However, few studies have looked at the effect of introducing rewards while participants are under stressful stimuli and the effect that this may potentially have on performance and physiological parameters. To study this, we used two different groups of participants, one that was offered a high-quality reward and the other a control with no knowledge of any reward. Participants were put under a four-and-a-half-minute time restraint to read a passage and a subsequent 90-second time constraint to answer seventeen multiple choice questions about the passage. We hypothesized that the introduction of the high-quality reward would negatively affect performance which would be seen physiologically by an increased heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate after the introduction of the high-quality reward. This in turn would negatively alter their overall exam performance. The results displayed a statistically significant increase in heart rate between the reward and nonreward groups; however, a significant increase was not observed in mean arterial pressure or respiration rates. The average test scores between the reward and non-reward group also did not demonstrate a statistical significance. Our results demonstrate that stress physiological parameters may increase from the introduction of high rewards and overall this may increase test performance. However, further studies are needed to test more participants and narrow potential external variables that may affect these results.