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Sport Psychology Performance-Undermining Effects of Baseball Free Agent Contracts



Research on the effects of extrinsic rewards on subsequent levels of intrinsic motivation and performance has produced conflicting results. In the present study, player statistics were obtained on 33 major league baseball free agents for two seasons prior to, and two seasons after, the signing of the contract. Results suggest that the new contract, particularly its substantial pay raise, caused a decrease in immediate postcontract performance. In addition, there was some evidence that performance output recovered to its precontract level in the second season postcontract. Findings are discussed with respect to previous work on intrinsic to extrinsic motivational shifts and the overjustification effect.

Authors: Ted S. Sturman, Ryan Thibodeau

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