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

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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.

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Correspondence to Sharlet D. Rafacz.

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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.

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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.

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Example of Mixed-Trial Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure Screen

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Screen Shot of Data Entry Task

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Rafacz, S.D., Houmanfar, R.A., Smith, G.S. et al. Assessing the Effects of Motivative Augmentals, Pay-For-Performance, and Implicit Verbal Responding on Cooperation. Psychol Rec 69, 49–66 (2019).

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