Some individuals generally work harder than others. My learned industriousness theory states that if an individual is rewarded for putting a large amount of cognitive or physical effort into an activity, the sensation of high effort takes on secondary reward properties that lessen effort’s general aversiveness. In accord with this view, research indicates that reward for high effort involving one or more activities increases the subsequent effort exerted in other activities by rats, depressed mental patients, learning-disabled and regular pre-adolescent students, and college students.

Below are some relevant articles by my colleagues and myself:


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Eisenberger, R., & Aselage, J. (2009). Incremental effects of reward on experienced performance pressure: Positive outcomes for intrinsic interest and creativity. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30, 95-117.
Eisenberger, R., & Shanock, L. (2003). Rewards, Intrinsic Motivation, and Creativity: A Case Study of Conceptual and Methodological Isolation. Creativity Research Journal, 15, 121-130.
Eisenberger, R., & Rhoades, L. (2001). Incremental effects of reward on creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 728-741. (Award for the Best Paper on Organizational Behavior at the 2001 Academy of Management Conference).
Eisenberger, R, Haskins, F., & Gambleton, P. (1999). Promised reward and creativity: Effects of prior experience. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 308-325.
Eisenberger, R. (1998). Achievement: The importance of industriousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 21, 412-413.
Eisenberger, R., & Cameron, J. (1998). Rewards, intrinsic interest and creativity: New findings. American Psychologist, 53, 676-679.
Eisenberger, R., Armeli, S., & Pretz, J. (1998). Can the promise of reward increase creativity? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 704-714.
Eisenberger, R., & Cameron, J. (1996). Detrimental effects of reward: Reality or Myth? American Psychologist, 51, 1153-1166.
Eisenberger, R., & Selbst, M. (1994). Does reward increase or decrease creativity? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 1116-1127.
Eisenberger, R. (1992). Learned industriousness. Psychological Review, 99, 248-267.
Eisenberger, R., Weir, F., Masterson, F. A., & Theis, F. (1989). Fixed ratio schedules increase generalized self-control: Preference for large rewards despite high effort or punishment. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 15, 383-392.