Motivation to Perform
What makes people put in an amount of mental effort to do something? Is it rewards, ego-pumping praise, or promotion? A study done by Brown University researchers has shown that the amount of mental effort invested in a task is influenced not just by what a person stands to gain, but also by the degree to which that outcome will depend on their performance. In three related experiments, it was seen that participants performed better on tasks when there was a bigger potential prize and when they felt like their efforts made a difference in earning that prize. In high efficacy trials, participants were informed that fast, accurate responses would always be rewarded, while in low efficacy trials they were told that their performance would have no bearing on whether or not they would receive the rewards on offer (as long as they provided some response). The study helped researchers find about how people learn when their effort matters.