A Path to Motivation: A Mediated Moderation Analysis of the Relationships Between Task-Contingent Rewards, Psychological Ownership, and Intrinsic Motivation Using Path Analysis

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Year of Completion


First Advisor

David S Jalajas


Private sector businesses employ performance pay compensation plans in order to incentivize increased employee effort. Legislation offers opportunities for school districts to experiment with performance pay plans in an attempt to encourage teacher effort, productivity, competition, and recruitment. Despite the potential benefits of performance pay, providing a task-contingent reward for an interesting activity has the tendency to undermine an individual’s intrinsic motivation for a task. This study sought to assess psychological ownership as a potential moderator for the undermining effect, which may shield an individual’s feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, allowing for intrinsic motivation in light of a task-contingent reward. This study analyzed data from 127 undergraduates and graduate students enrolled at Long Island University, CW Post Campus and an additional 27 teachers from Brooklyn, New York. Full and trimmed path analyses were conducted on a series of Likert-type scales to test three primary hypotheses. The findings confirmed that a task-contingent reward undermined intrinsic motivation for an interesting task. This study’s psychological ownership intervention and the combination of the intervention with a task-contingent reward also negatively effected intrinsic motivation. Job-based psychological ownership, a measurement of feelings of possession, however, did positively effect intrinsic motivation providing evidence that feelings of psychological ownership lead to feelings of intrinsic motivation. This study contributes to the fields of psychological ownership theory and self-determination theory by presenting empirical evidence connecting these two theories. Recommendations are offered for the improvement of teacher motivation, job design, compensation and educational policy. Keywords: education, mediated moderation, performance pay, psychological ownership theory, self-determination theory.