The Psychological Record

, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 49–66 | Cite as

Assessing the Effects of Motivative Augmentals, Pay-For-Performance, and Implicit Verbal Responding on Cooperation

  • Sharlet D. RafaczEmail author
  • Ramona A. Houmanfar
  • Gregory S. Smith
  • Michael E. Levin
Original Article


Motivative augmentals are rules or statements that temporarily change the effectiveness of a consequence, similar to establishing operations for nonverbal consequences (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche, 2001). Many communications by an organization's leadership may function as such and alter the function of stimuli in the workplace, which in turn may influence employee behaviors (Houmanfar & Rodrigues, Journal of Applied Radical Behavior Analysis, N1, 22–27, 2012). There is a lack of experimental research regarding this, however, particularly under different organizational pay systems (i.e., financial contingencies), which have been repeatedly shown to influence performance (e.g., Gupta & Shaw, Compensation and Benefits Review, 30(2), 26–32, 1998; Locke, Feren, McCaleb, Shaw, & Denny, 1980). The current study sought to compare the two by measuring the effect of motivational statements on individual versus cooperative responding under two different pay-for-performance contingencies in an organizational analogue. Stimuli for the motivational statements were selected utilizing an Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) with one group of participants, and these statements were then tested under piece-rate and profit-share conditions with a second group of participants in a counterbalanced reversal design. Results indicated that the financial contingencies had more of an effect on responding, but that motivational statements influenced behavior as well. In particular, motivational statements affected whether a participant chose to cooperate or behave individually more under financially neutral conditions (i.e., profit share) when there was no financial cost for doing so. As such, organizations can utilize memos or speeches to increase performance, but it is important for the content to align with financial contingencies in order to maximize performance.


Motivative augmentals Pay-for-performance Implicit relational assessment procedure Rules Cooperation Relational frame theory 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Sharlet Rafacz declares that she has no conflict of interest, Ramona Houmanfar declares that she has no conflict of interest, Greg Smith declares that he has no conflict of interest, and Mike Levin declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Abernathy, W. B. (1996). The sin of wages: Where the conventional pay system has led us, and how to find a way out. Memphis, TN: PerfSys Press.Google Scholar
  2. Abernathy, W. B. (2000). Managing without supervising: Creating an organization-wide performance system. Memphis, TN: PerfSys Press.Google Scholar
  3. Abernathy, W. B. (2008). Implications and applications of a behavior systems perspective. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 28, 123–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Abernathy, W. B. (2009). Walden two revisited: Optimizing behavioral systems. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 29, 175–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barnes-Holmes, D., Barnes-Holmes, Y., Stewart, I., & Boles, S. (2010). A sketch of the implicit relational assessment procedure (IRAP) and the relational elaboration and coherence (REC) model. The Psychological Record, 60, 527–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beer, M., & Cannon, M. (2004). Promise and peril in implementing pay-for-performance. Human Resource Management Journal, 43, 3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bucklin, B. R., & Dickinson, A. M. (2001). Individual monetary incentives: A review of different types of arrangements between performance and pay. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 21(3), 45–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  9. Daniels, A. C., & Bailey, J. S. (2014). Performance management: Changing behavior that drives organizational effectiveness. Atlanta, GA: Aubrey Daniels International.Google Scholar
  10. Filson, B. (1991). Ten keys to a successful motivational speech. Incentive, 165(9), 85–86.Google Scholar
  11. Fisher, W. W., & Mazur, J. E. (1997). Basic and applied research on choice responding. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30(3), 387–410. Scholar
  12. Galizio, M. (1979). Contingency-shaped and rule-governed behavior: Instructional control of human loss avoidance. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 31(1), 53–70.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. K. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The implicit associations test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464–1480.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Gupta, N., & Shaw, J. D. (1998). Let the evidence speak: Financial incentives are effective! Compensation and Benefits Review, 30(2), 26–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hayes, S. C. (2005). Fleeing from the elephant: Language, cognition, and post-Skinnerian behavior analytic science. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 24(1/2), 155–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hayes, S. C., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Roche, B. (Eds.). (2001). Relational frame theory. A post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  17. Houmanfar, R., & Rodrigues, N. J. (2012). The role of leadership and communication in organizational change. Journal of Applied Radical Behavior Analysis, N1, 22–27.Google Scholar
  18. Houmanfar, R., Rodrigues, N. J., & Smith, G. S. (2009). Role of communication networks in behavioral systems analysis. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 29, 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Houmanfar, R. A., Alavosius, M. P., Morford, Z. H., Herbst, S. A., & Reimer, D. (2015). Functions of organizational leaders in cultural change: Financial and social well-being. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 35, 4–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hughes, S., Hussey, I., Corrigan, B., Jolie, K., Murphy, C., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2016). Faking revisited: Exerting strategic control over performance on the implicit relational assessment procedure. European Journal of Social Psychology, 46(5), 632–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jackson, M. L., Williams, W. L., Hayes, S. C., Humphreys, T., Gauthier, B., & Westwood, R. (2016). Whatever gets your heart pumping: The impact of implicitly selected reinforcer-focused statements on exercise intensity. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 5(1), 48–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Johnson, R. A., Houmanfar, R., & Smith, G. S. (2010). The effect of implicit and explicit rules on customer greeting and productivity in a retail organization. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 30(1), 38–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kahn, L. M., & Sherer, P. D. (1990). Contingent pay and managerial performance. [special issue]. Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 43(3), 107–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kantor, J. R. (1982). Cultural psychology. Chicago, IL: Principia Press.Google Scholar
  25. Kaufman, A., Baron, A., & Kopp, R. E. (1966). Some effects of instructions on human operant behavior. Psychonomic Monograph Supplements, 1, 243–250.Google Scholar
  26. Kissi, A., Hughes, S., Mertens, G., Barnes-Holmes, D., De Houwer, J., & Crombez, G. (2017). A systematic review of pliance, tracking, and augmenting. Behavior Modification, 41(5), 683–707.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Lawler III., E. E. (1990). Strategic pay. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  28. Levin, M. E., Hayes, S. C., & Waltz, T. (2010). Creating an implicit measure of cognition more suited to applied research: A test of the mixed trial-implicit relational assessment procedure (MT-IRAP). International Journal of Behavioral Consultation & Therapy, 6(3), 245–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Locke, E. A., Feren, D. B., McCaleb, V. M., Shaw, K. N., & Denny, A. T. (1980). The relative effectiveness of four methods of motivating employee performance. In K. D. Duncan, M. M. Gruneberg, & D. Wallis (Eds.), Changes in working life (pp. 363–388). London, UK: Wiley.Google Scholar
  30. Maglieri, K. (2007). Evaluation of performance under various pay systems (unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV.Google Scholar
  31. Malott, R. (1992). A theory of rule governed behavior and organizational management. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 12, 45–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mayfield, J. R., Mayfield, M. R., & Kopf, J. (1998). The effects of leader motivating language on subordinate performance and satisfaction. Human Resource Management, 37(3/4), 235–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McKenna, I. M., Barnes-Holmes, D., Barnes-Holmes, Y., & Stewart, I. (2007). Testing the fake ability of the implicit relational assessment procedure (IRAP): The first study. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 7(2), 253–268.Google Scholar
  34. Roos, J. (2013). The benefits and limitations of leadership speeches in change initiatives. Journal of Management Development, 32(5), 548–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rosenberg, S. (1960). Cooperative behavior in dyads as a function of reinforcement parameters. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 60, 318–333.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Rynes, S. L., Gerhart, B., & Parks, L. (2005). Personnel psychology: Performance evaluation and pay for performance. Annual Review of Psychology, 56, 571–600.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Smith, G. S., Houmanfar, R., & Denny, M. (2012). Impact of rule accuracy on productivity and rumor in an organizational analog. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 32(1), 3–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Weitzman, M. L., & Kruse, D. L. (1990). Profit sharing and productivity. In A. S. Blinder (Ed.), Paying for productivity (pp. 95–140). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  39. Wilder, D. A., & Sigurdsson, S. O. (2015). Applications of behavior analysis to improve safety in organizations and community settings. In H. S. Roane, J. L. Ringdahl, & T. S. Falcomata (Eds.), Clinical and organizational applications of applied behavior analysis (pp. 583–601). San Diego, CA: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State University, FresnoFresnoUSA
  2. 2.Behavior Analysis Program, Department of PsychologyUniversity of Nevada, RenoRenoUSA
  3. 3.ChrysalisUniversity of Nevada, Reno School of MedicineProvidenceUSA
  4. 4.Utah State UniversityLoganUSA

Personalised recommendations