Asymmetrical consequences of behavioral change through reward and punishment



Previous research (Greitemeyer & Weiner, 2003) has demonstrated that compliance, because of an anticipated reward is attributed more to the person than compliance because of an anticipated punishment. The present research extended these findings to an educational context. Three studies revealed that parents who ask their children to change inappropriate behaviors are more likely to ascribe their children's improvement to the child, if the child was promised a reward, rather than threatened, to receive a punishment if the child did not improve. Moreover, because a child's improved behavior is more likely to be ascribed to the child given a reward as compared to a punishment, parents expect that rewards (as opposed to punishments) are more likely to sustain improved behavior, when the incentive is no longer offered. Finally, participants report to be more likely to induce behavioral change through reward rather than punishment. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.