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Opposing effects of reward and punishment on human vigor

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The vigor with which humans and animals engage in a task is often a determinant of the likelihood of the task’s success. An influential theoretical model suggests that the speed and rate at which responses are made should depend on the availability of rewards and punishments. While vigor facilitates the gathering of rewards in a bountiful environment, there is an incentive to slow down when punishments are forthcoming so as to decrease the rate of punishments, in conflict with the urge to perform fast to escape punishment. Previous experiments confirmed the former, leaving the latter unanswered. We tested the influence of punishment in an experiment involving economic incentives and contrasted this with reward related behavior on the same task. We found that behavior corresponded with the theoretical model; while instantaneous threat of punishment caused subjects to increase the vigor of their response, subjects’ response times would slow as the overall rate of punishment increased. We quantitatively show that this is in direct contrast to increases in vigor in the face of increased overall reward rates. These results highlight the opposed effects of rewards and punishments and provide further evidence for their roles in the variety of types of human decisions.

No MeSH data available.


Beta values (mean and standard errors) for available reward (AR, blue) and average reward (r, blue), based on rewarding subjects for being correct and fast, plotted against available punishment (AP, red) and average punishment (p, red), based on punishing subjects for being incorrect or slow. Reward data are re-plotted from Beierholm et al.5. ***p < 0.001.
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f3: Beta values (mean and standard errors) for available reward (AR, blue) and average reward (r, blue), based on rewarding subjects for being correct and fast, plotted against available punishment (AP, red) and average punishment (p, red), based on punishing subjects for being incorrect or slow. Reward data are re-plotted from Beierholm et al.5. ***p < 0.001.

Mentions: Comparing to the previous Rewarding experiment (ref. 4, reanalysed in ref. 5) allows us to examine the differential effects of rewards and punishments on vigor (Fig. 3). Using a 2-sample t-test we found no significant difference across the two experiments for the Linear (p > 0.05, t = −0.46), Intertrial intervals (p > 0.05, t = 0.95), with a slight significant difference for Too Late (p < 0.05, t = −1.95). The fitted learning rates were also not significantly different (p > 0.05, t = 1.78).


Opposing effects of reward and punishment on human vigor
Beta values (mean and standard errors) for available reward (AR, blue) and average reward (r, blue), based on rewarding subjects for being correct and fast, plotted against available punishment (AP, red) and average punishment (p, red), based on punishing subjects for being incorrect or slow. Reward data are re-plotted from Beierholm et al.5. ***p < 0.001.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5304224&req=5

f3: Beta values (mean and standard errors) for available reward (AR, blue) and average reward (r, blue), based on rewarding subjects for being correct and fast, plotted against available punishment (AP, red) and average punishment (p, red), based on punishing subjects for being incorrect or slow. Reward data are re-plotted from Beierholm et al.5. ***p < 0.001.
Mentions: Comparing to the previous Rewarding experiment (ref. 4, reanalysed in ref. 5) allows us to examine the differential effects of rewards and punishments on vigor (Fig. 3). Using a 2-sample t-test we found no significant difference across the two experiments for the Linear (p > 0.05, t = −0.46), Intertrial intervals (p > 0.05, t = 0.95), with a slight significant difference for Too Late (p < 0.05, t = −1.95). The fitted learning rates were also not significantly different (p > 0.05, t = 1.78).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The vigor with which humans and animals engage in a task is often a determinant of the likelihood of the task&rsquo;s success. An influential theoretical model suggests that the speed and rate at which responses are made should depend on the availability of rewards and punishments. While vigor facilitates the gathering of rewards in a bountiful environment, there is an incentive to slow down when punishments are forthcoming so as to decrease the rate of punishments, in conflict with the urge to perform fast to escape punishment. Previous experiments confirmed the former, leaving the latter unanswered. We tested the influence of punishment in an experiment involving economic incentives and contrasted this with reward related behavior on the same task. We found that behavior corresponded with the theoretical model; while instantaneous threat of punishment caused subjects to increase the vigor of their response, subjects&rsquo; response times would slow as the overall rate of punishment increased. We quantitatively show that this is in direct contrast to increases in vigor in the face of increased overall reward rates. These results highlight the opposed effects of rewards and punishments and provide further evidence for their roles in the variety of types of human decisions.

No MeSH data available.