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The Effect of Incentives on Real Effort: Evidence from the Slider Task

Lise Vesterlund ()

No 5661, Working Paper from Department of Economics, University of Pittsburgh

Abstract: Real-effort experiments are frequently used when examining a response to incentives.For any particular real-effort task to be well-suited for such an exercise subjects’ cost for exertingeffort must result in an interior effort choice. The popular slider task in Gill and Prowse (2012)has been characterized as satisfying this requirement, and the task has been increasingly used to investigatethe response to changes in both monetary and non-monetary incentives. However, despiteits increasing use, a simple between-subject examination of the slider task’s response to incentiveshas not been conducted. We provide such an examination with three different piece-rate incentives:half a cent, two cents, and eight cents per slider completed. We find that participants in the threetreatments completed on average 26.1, 26.6 and 27.3 sliders per round, respectively. The one-sliderincrease in observed performance is small, not only relative to the sixteen-fold increase in the incentives,but also relative to the observed heterogeneity across subjects, rates of learning, and evenidiosyncratic variation. Our paper cautions that the slider task will be underpowered for uncoveringa response to incentives in between-subject designs.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe and nep-exp
Date: 2015-01
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