Experiment Assesses People's Preference for Rewards
A first-of-its-kind experiment by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) revealed how people prefer to receive recognition and rewards. In December the IRF released "Reward Presentation and Attraction: A Biometric Experiment," a second report that details the findings from the IRF's first-of-a-kind biometric experiment that examines how people prefer to receive recognition and rewards.
The study took a look at different drivers of award presentation preferences and suggested ways of determining effective approaches to make the presentation have an impact on the recipient.
In the fall of 2016, the IRF commissioned Flying Horse Communications and its chief scientist, neuroscience expert Dr. Steven Genco, to conduct the experiment in the field of rewards and recognition. The experiment used biometric techniques that were borrowed from the science of neuromarketing.
"This study provides new and deeper insight into reward-earner performance, at both the conscious and unconscious levels, in the presentation of rewards and recognition," stated Melissa Van Dyke, president of the IRF. "Some people prefer a great deal of pomp and ceremony when they are recognized, while others prefer just a verbal or written note of appreciation along with the reward that accompanies it. Ultimately, our results demonstrate a highly-individualized range of preference."
Each of the 42 subjects in the experiment listened to a series of four reward presentation scenarios. They were: Big Show (in front of the entire company and delivered by the CEO]) Little Show (involving their work group and presented by the immediate manager); Peer-to-Peer (immediate co-workers presented the reward with only the work group in attendance); and Private (a private, personal note was sent by the CEO accompanying the reward).
For example, responses were assessed using two biometric techniques. The Behavioral Approach System (BAS) measured "appetitive motives," while Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) measured avoidance. BIS/BAS measures a person's unconscious preference for different kinds of experiences.
The experiment supported research that suggests that at least some form of public recognition is important to all reward earners. In addition, it showed that smaller presentations might be more effective and meaningful than big, company-wide events for most people.
Some key findings include:
- Subjects' unconscious reactions and conscious choice indicated a greater preference for a "Little Show."
- The "Private" presentation rated consistently last in its ability to "arouse" the interests of the subjects.
- In their attraction to the "Big Show," "Little Show" and "Peer-to-Peer" presentations, men were evenly split.
- Women were attracted more to "Peer-to-Peer" presentations, both in their explicit conscious ratings and unconsciously assessed as by pupil dilation.
- Sales people were less attracted to the "Big Show" than non-sales people.
- Millennials appeared significantly more drawn to "Peer-to-Peer" presentations than other options.