Monetary and non-monetary incentives in real-effort tournaments,” with Nisvan Erkal and Lata Gangadharan, 2018, European Economic Review, 101, 528-545. [link] [pdf] Abstract

Results from laboratory experiments using real-effort tasks provide mixed evidence on the relationship between monetary incentives and effort provision. To examine this issue, we design three experiments where subjects participate in two-player real-effort tournaments with two prizes. Experiment 1 shows that subjects exert high effort even if there are no monetary incentives, suggesting that non-monetary incentives are contributing to their effort choices. Moreover, increasing monetary incentives does not result in higher effort provision. Experiment 2 shows that the impact of non-monetary incentives can be reduced by providing subjects with the option of leaving the laboratory early, using an incentivized timeout button, or working on an incentivized alternative activity. Experiment 3 revisits the relationship between monetary incentives and effort provision using the insights from Experiment 2. Using a design with an incentivized alternative activity, we show that participants increase effort in response to monetary incentives. Taken together, the findings from the three experiments suggest that results from real-effort tasks require a careful evaluation and interpretation of the motivations underlying the observed performance.

Impact of rebates and refunds on contributions to threshold public goods: Evidence from a field experiment,” with Matthew Donazzan and Nisvan Erkal, 2016, Southern Economic Journal, 83(1), 69-86. [link] [pdf] Abstract

We investigate the impact of rebates and refunds on contributions to threshold public goods using evidence from a field experiment conducted in conjunction with an Australian charity, Life Goes On. We find that offering rebates and refunds has a significant positive impact on both participation and average donations in the absence of seed money. Our results suggest that offering rebates and refunds, and the existence of seed money may, to some extent, play substitute roles in encouraging giving behavior. Seed money has a significant positive effect on participation only. Seed money’s impact on average donations may be mitigated by a threshold effect.


Working Papers

Attribution biases in leadership: Is it effort or luck?,” with Nisvan Erkal and Lata Gangadharan [pdf] Abstract

Leaders often have to make decisions under risk and uncertainty. Using a controlled laboratory experiment motivated by a simple theoretical framework, we investigate whether group members attribute leaders’ outcomes to luck or to effort in an environment where only outcomes are observable. We find that the leadership appointment mechanism plays a role in shaping group members’ expectations about the leader’s type. Moreover, members are biased when they update their beliefs upon observing the outcomes of their leaders’ decisions. Importantly, we find that the biases tend to be driven by those subjects who choose low effort as leaders.


Work in Progress

Feedback and groups in contests,” with Kai Barron and Nisvan Erkal.