University of Chicago2014-11-01 9:50 AM

The Motivating-Uncertainty Effect: Uncertainty Increases Resource Investment in the Process of Reward Pursuit

Abstract

Can a reward of an uncertain magnitude be more motivating than a reward of a certain magnitude? This research documents the motivating-uncertainty effect and specifies when this effect occurs. People invest more effort, time, and money to qualify for an uncertain reward (e.g., a 50% chance at $2 and a 50% chance at $1) than a certain reward of a higher expected value (e.g., a 100% chance at $2). This effect arises only when people focus on the process of pursuing a reward, but not when they focus on the outcome (the reward itself). When the focus is on the process of reward pursuit, uncertainty generates positive experience such as excitement and hence increases motivation. Four studies involving real rewards lend support to the motivating- uncertainty effect. This research carries theoretical implications for research on risk preference and motivation and practical implications for how to devise cost-efficient consumer incentive systems.


Full Article (In press, Journal of Consumer Research)

KEYWORDS

SHARE & LIKE

COMMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

University of Chicago

0 Following 0 Fans 0 Projects 11 Articles

SIMILAR ARTICLES

AbstractReading other people’s eyes is a valuable skill during interpersonal interaction. Although a number of studies have investigated visual pattern

Read More

AbstractTemperatures are rising at an unprecedented rate in the Arctic, and affecting the sensitive hydrological cycle with increased freshwater inputs

Read More

AbstractIsolating microbes carrying genes of interest from environmental samples is important for applications in biology and medicine. However, this i

Read More

AbstractUnderstanding how chance historical events shape evolutionary processes is a central goal of evolutionary biology1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Direct in

Read More

AbstractThe influenza A virus M2 channel (AM2) is crucial in the viral life cycle. Despite many previous experimental and computational studies, the me

Read More

AbstractX-ray1, 2, 3 and radio4, 5, 6 observations of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A reveal the presence of magnetic fields about 100 times stronge

Read More

AbstractConnecting with others increases happiness, but strangers in close proximity routinely ignore each other. Why? Two reasons seem likely: Either

Read More

AbstractCan a reward of an uncertain magnitude be more motivating than a reward of a certain magnitude? This research documents the motivating-uncertai

Read More

AbstractProsociality is considered a virtue. Those who care for others are admired, whereas those who care only for themselves are despised. For one’s

Read More

How does non-consumption shape desire? The proposed model suggests that desire depends on the length of non-consumption of a good and the presence of s

Read More