Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 25 September 2011 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00248

Monetary incentives in speeded perceptual decision: effects of penalizing errors versus slow responses

Michael Dambacher1,2*, Ronald Hübner1 and Jan Schlösser1
  • 1 Department of Psychology, Universität Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany
  • 2 Zukunftskolleg, Universität Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany

The influence of monetary incentives on performance has been widely investigated among various disciplines. While the results reveal positive incentive effects only under specific conditions, the exact nature, and the contribution of mediating factors are largely unexplored. The present study examined influences of payoff schemes as one of these factors. In particular, we manipulated penalties for errors and slow responses in a speeded categorization task. The data show improved performance for monetary over symbolic incentives when (a) penalties are higher for slow responses than for errors, and (b) neither slow responses nor errors are punished. Conversely, payoff schemes with stronger punishment for errors than for slow responses resulted in worse performance under monetary incentives. The findings suggest that an emphasis of speed is favorable for positive influences of monetary incentives, whereas an emphasis of accuracy under time pressure has the opposite effect.

Keywords: monetary reward, flanker task, attentional effort, speed–accuracy tradeoff

Citation: Dambacher M Hübner R and Schlösser J (2011) Monetary incentives in speeded perceptual decision: effects of penalizing errors versus slow responses. Front. Psychology 2:248. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00248

Received: 02 March 2011; Accepted: 07 September 2011;
Published online: 26 September 2011.

Edited by:

Mattie Tops, University of Groningen, Netherlands

Reviewed by:

Todd S. Braver, Washington University, USA
Maarten A. S. Boksem, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands

Copyright: © 2011 Dambacher, Hübner and Schlösser. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Michael Dambacher, Fachbereich Psychologie, Universität Konstanz, Fach D29, D-78457 Konstanz, Germany. e-mail: michael.dambacher@uni- konstanz.de

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