Reward Enhances Online Participants' Engagement With a Demanding Auditory Task

Trends Hear. 2021 Jan-Dec;25:23312165211025941. doi: 10.1177/23312165211025941.


Online recruitment platforms are increasingly used for experimental research. Crowdsourcing is associated with numerous benefits but also notable constraints, including lack of control over participants' environment and engagement. In the context of auditory experiments, these limitations may be particularly detrimental to threshold-based tasks that require effortful listening. Here, we ask whether incorporating a performance-based monetary bonus improves speech reception performance of online participants. In two experiments, participants performed an adaptive matrix-type speech-in-noise task (where listeners select two key words out of closed sets). In Experiment 1, our results revealed worse performance in online (N = 49) compared with in-lab (N = 81) groups. Specifically, relative to the in-lab cohort, significantly fewer participants in the online group achieved very low thresholds. In Experiment 2 (N = 200), we show that a monetary reward improved listeners' thresholds to levels similar to those observed in the lab setting. Overall, the results suggest that providing a small performance-based bonus increases participants' task engagement, facilitating a more accurate estimation of auditory ability under challenging listening conditions.

Keywords: CRM; bonus; coordinate response measure; remote testing; speech-in-noise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Perception
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Humans
  • Noise
  • Reward
  • Speech Perception*