The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Applied Behavior Analysis: M.S.


Community Psychology, Counseling and Family Therapy


School of Health and Human Services

First Advisor

Benjamin N Witts

Second Advisor

Kimberly A Schulze

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Observing Response, Pay-for-Time, Pay-for-Performance, Monetary Schedules, Productivity, Preference


Problem: Previous research on pay-for-performance (PFP) and pay-for-time (PFT) employee compensation has determined employees are more productive under PFP compensation schedules; however, research concerning employee preference and off-task behavior between PFP and PFT schedules have yielded inconclusive results.

Procedure: Participants engaged in a check-processing task, which consisted of entering sample checks containing a value between $1 and $999. The check-processing task remained the same throughout all pre-experimental and experimental conditions. The check background was white during baseline, but alternated between four colors during subsequent phases. Each background color was associated with a monetary schedule: orange (EXT), green (FT 15 s), blue (FR 1), and yellow (FR 5). The pre-experiment consisted of two phases: baseline and a Stability Phase. During baseline, participants received zero monetary compensation. During the Stability Phase, the four monetary schedules were alternated and participants were paid according to the monetary scheduled they were working under. The pre-experiment was used to determine the stability criteria implemented in the actual experiment. The experiment consisted of three phases: baseline, Phase 1, and Phase 2. Baseline and Phase 1 remained the same as during the pre-experiment, but with the inclusion of the stability criteria. Phase 2 lasted 16 min and used the same four monetary schedules; however, all checks began with a white-colored background. Phase 2 introduced the observing response as a measure of reinforcement value. To engage in the observing response, participants pressed the spacebar on the keyboard, which changed the check’s background color from “white” to the color associated with the current schedule for 1 s.

Findings: Results showed that the majority of the nine experimental participants produced higher rates of check processing under PFP conditions. Similarly, results from Phase 1 demonstrated that all participants spent more time on-task under PFP conditions; however, Phase 2 results indicated that the majority (67%) of participants that engaged in off-task behavior were off-task the most under PFP conditions. Sixty-seven percent of the participants that engaged in the observing response observed the most under the denser PFP schedule (i.e., FR 1), although observing tended to be variable both within and across participants. The study concluded with an overview of the results and a discussion on potential limitations and areas of future PFP/PFT research.


I would like to thank the authors of the study Effects of and Preference for Pay for Performance: An Analogue Analysis (Long, Wilder, Betz, & Dutta, 2012) from which the current study was derived from. I would also like to thank the St. Cloud State University faculty--particularly Drs. Ben Witts and Kim Schulze-- for their help throughout this process.



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