Robert Eisenberger

Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, 1972

Department of Psychology
Phone: Office (302) 831-2787: Fax (302) 831-3645

Office: Room 230 Wolf Hall

Research Interests

1. Creativity and Intrinsic Motivation. I study social psychological and personality determinants of creativity and task enjoyment in children, college students, and employees. My recent research suggests that, contrary to conventional views, (a) reward can be used effectively to increase perceived control over whether and how tasks are carried out and to increase perceived competence, task enjoyment and creativity, (b) reward for novel performance increases creativity in subsequent tasks, and (c) persons with a high desire for control respond to reward for high performance with heightened task interest.

2. Employee Motivation. My research in a variety of work organizations indicates that (a) employees form general beliefs concerning how much the organization values their contributions and cares about their well-being (perceived organizational support), (b) favorable discretionary actions by the organization contribute to perceived organizational support, and (c) based on the norm of reciprocity, employees reciprocate perceived organizational support with greater emotional commitment to the organization, work effort in standard job activities, and innovative problem solving.

3. Learned Industriousness. 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.

4. Reciprocation in interpersonal relationships. My research suggests that people's return of favorable or unfavorable treatment by others depends on basic beliefs concerning reciprocation, such as (a) returning better treatment than received from another person has long-term benefits, (b) caution in reciprocating favorable treatment is required to avoid being taken advantage of, and (c) people should like those who like them.

Representative Publications

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