Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 235, Issue 4, pp 1107–1118 | Cite as

Effort provides its own reward: endeavors reinforce subjective expectation and evaluation of task performance

  • Lei Wang
  • Jiehui Zheng
  • Liang Meng
Research Article


Although many studies have investigated the relationship between the amount of effort invested in a certain task and one’s attitude towards the subsequent reward, whether exerted effort would impact one’s expectation and evaluation of performance feedback itself still remains to be examined. In the present study, two types of calculation tasks that varied in the required effort were adopted, and we resorted to electroencephalography to probe the temporal dynamics of how exerted effort would affect one’s anticipation and evaluation of performance feedback. In the high-effort condition, a more salient stimulus-preceding negativity was detected during the anticipation stage, which was accompanied with a more salient FRN/P300 complex (a more positive P300 and a less negative feedback-related negativity) in response to positive outcomes in the evaluation stage. These results suggested that when more effort was invested, an enhanced anticipatory attention would be paid toward one’s task performance feedback and that positive outcomes would be subjectively valued to a greater extent.


Effort Reward Anticipation Event-related potential Stimulus-preceding negativity Feedback-related negativity 



Lei Wang was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant No. 71471163]. Liang Meng was funded by “Chen Guang” project supported by Shanghai Municipal Education Commission and Shanghai Education Development Foundation [Grant No. 16CG36], and a project from the Planning Fund of Shanghai International Studies University [Grant No. 20161140012].

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

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


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.School of Business and ManagementShanghai International Studies UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Neuromanagement LabZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  4. 4.Laboratory of Applied Brain and Cognitive SciencesShanghai International Studies UniversityShanghaiChina

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