2009 Volume 28 Issue 4 Pages 181-190
The effects of reward and punishment are different, and there are individual differences in sensitivity to reward and punishment. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of reward and punishment on task performance, mood, and autonomic nervous function, along with the interaction with personality. Twenty-one healthy female subjects volunteered for the experiment. The task performance was evaluated by required time and total errors while performing a Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. We assessed their personalities using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) questionnaire, and mood states by a profile of mood states. Autonomic nervous function was estimated by a spectral analysis of heart rate variability, baroreflex sensitivity, and blood pressure. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed significant interaction of condition×time course on mood and autonomic nervous activity, which would indicate a less stressed state under the rewarding condition, but revealed no significant interaction of condition×time course on the task performance. The interactions with personality were further analyzed by repeated measures ANOVA applying the clinical scales of MMPI as independent variables, and significant interactions of condition×time course×Pt (psychasthenia) on task performance, mood, and blood pressure, were revealed. That is, the high Pt group, whose members tend to be sensitive and prone to worry, showed gradual improvement of task performance under the punishing situation with slight increase in systolic blood pressure, while showed no improvement under the rewarding situation with fatigue sense attenuation. In contrast, the low Pt group, whose members tend to be adaptive and self-confident, showed gradual improvement under the rewarding situation. Therefore, we should carefully choose the strategy of reward or punishment, considering the interaction with personality as well as the context in which it is given.