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The Importance of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation for Measuring IQ


  • Borghans, Lex

    () (Maastricht University)

  • Meijers, Huub

    () (Maastricht University)

  • ter Weel, Bas

    () (SEO Amsterdam)


This research provides an economic model of the way people behave during an IQ test. We distinguish a technology that describes how time investment improves performance from preferences that determine how much time people invest in each question. We disentangle these two elements empirically using data from a laboratory experiment. The main findings is that both intrinsic (questions that people like to work on) and extrinsic motivation (incentive payments) increase time investments and as a result performance. The presence of incentive payments seems to be more important than the size of the reward. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation turn out to be complements.

Suggested Citation

  • Borghans, Lex & Meijers, Huub & ter Weel, Bas, 2013. "The Importance of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation for Measuring IQ," IZA Discussion Papers 7182, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7182

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Roland G. Fryer, 2011. "Financial Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from Randomized Trials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1755-1798.
    2. Liu, Liqun & Neilson, William S., 2011. "High scores but low skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 507-516, June.
    3. Winters, Marcus A. & Trivitt, Julie R. & Greene, Jay P., 2010. "The impact of high-stakes testing on student proficiency in low-stakes subjects: Evidence from Florida's elementary science exam," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 138-146, February.
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    5. Lex Borghans & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
    6. Borghans Lex & Golsteyn Bart H.H. & Heckman James & Humphries John Eric, 2011. "Identification Problems in Personality Psychology," Research Memorandum 025, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
    7. Eric P. Bettinger, 2012. "Paying to Learn: The Effect of Financial Incentives on Elementary School Test Scores," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 686-698, August.
    8. Lex Borghans & Huub Meijers & Bas Ter Weel, 2008. "The Role Of Noncognitive Skills In Explaining Cognitive Test Scores," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(1), pages 2-12, January.
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      • Heckman, James J. & Humphries, John Eric & Mader, Nicholas S., 2010. "The GED," IZA Discussion Papers 4975, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    13. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 3-33, February.
    14. Carmit Segal, 2006. "Motivation, test scores and economic success," Economics Working Papers 1124, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2008.
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    Cited by:

    1. Banuri, Sheheryar & Keefer, Philip, 2016. "Pro-social motivation, effort and the call to public service," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 139-164.

    More about this item


    cognitive test scores; incentives;

    JEL classification:

    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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