The authors recently proposed that adverse effects of material rewards on Wechsler subscale performance may be the result of a reward-produced developmental regression. The present study further explores that idea through an attempt to replicate earlier findings with adults and to extend the inquiry to children. Selected Wechsler subscales were administered to 32 subjects at each of three ages (5, 10, and 18 years) under either reward or nonreward conditions. Subscales were chosen to represent both algorithmic and heuristic types of tasks. Reward and nonreward groups (8 males and 8 females per group at each age) were matched initially on age and ability. For adults, consistent with earlier findings, reward had an adverse effect on performance on the heuristic subscales and tended to facilitate performance on the algorithmic subscales. However, rewards generally had no effect at the fourth-grade level and had a reverse effect at the nursery school level, i.e., rewards facilitated heuristic and hampered algorithmic performance. These findings appear to be more consistent with an explanation based on developmental regression than on any available alternative mechanism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)