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The present study examined how rewards affect people's intrinsic motivation when the rewards are tied to meeting increasingly demanding performance standards. The experiment was a 2 x 2 factorial design with 2 levels of performance standard (constant, progressive) and 2 levels of reward (reward, no reward). Using a puzzle-solving task, 60 undergraduate university students were randomly assigned to the experimental conditions. In the constant conditions, participants were required to solve 3 puzzle problems on each of 3 trials; in the progressive conditions, participants were asked to solve 1, 3, and 5 problems over the trials. Half the participants were offered and given $1.00 for each correct solution; those in the no-reward condition were not offered pay. The major finding was that participants in the progressive reward condition spent more time on the task in a free-choice session than those in the other conditions. The findings are discussed in terms of different theoretical accounts of rewards and intrinsic motivation and are most consistent with an extension of Eisenberger's (1992) theory of learned industriousness.

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