Does effort increase or decrease reward valuation? Considerations from cognitive dissonance theory

Eddie Harmon-Jones, Sophie Matis, Douglas J. Angus, Cindy Harmon-Jones

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Abstract

The present research tested the effect of manipulated perceived control (over obtaining the outcomes) and effort on reward valuation using the event-related potential known as the Reward Positivity (RewP). This test was conducted in an attempt to integrate two research literatures with opposite findings: Effort justification occurs when high effort leads to high reward valuation, whereas effort discounting occurs when high effort leads to low reward valuation. Based on an examination of past methods used in these literatures, we predicted that perceived control and effort would interactively influence RewP. Consistent with the effort justification literature (cognitive dissonance theory), when individuals have high perceived control, high effort should lead to more reward valuation than low effort should. Consistent with the effort discounting literature, when individuals have low perceived control, low effort should lead to more reward valuation than high effort should. Results supported these interactive and integrative predictions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14536
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPsychophysiology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2024

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