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The Effect of Incentive Structure on Heuristic Decision Making: The Proportion Heuristic

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  • Oxoby, Robert J.

    ()
    (University of Calgary)

Abstract

When making judgments, individuals often utilize heuristics to interpret information. We report on a series of experiments designed to test the ways in which incentive mechanisms influence the use of a particular heuristic in decision-making. Specifically, we demonstrate how information regarding the number of available practice problems influences the behaviors of individuals preparing for an exam (the proportion heuristic). More importantly the extent to which this information influences behavior depends critically on the way in which performance incentives are structured. In particular, relative compensation schemes magnify the influence of this heuristic while joint compensation schemes dampen its influence. We discuss these results with respect to the literature on effective compensation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2857.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 2009, 39 (1), 120 - 133
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2857

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Related research

Keywords: incentives; heuristics; performance judgments; experiments;

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References

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  1. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  2. Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8jd5z5j2, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
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  4. Berg, Nathan, 2003. "Normative behavioral economics," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 411-427, September.
  5. Todd L. Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason F. Shogren, 2002. "Hardnose the Dictator," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1218-1221, September.
  6. Oxoby, Robert J., 2002. "Status characteristics, cognitive bias, and incentives in teams," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 301-316.
  7. Nathan Berg, 2005. "Decision-making environments in which unboundedly rational decision makers choose to ignore relevant information," Global Business and Economics Review, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 7(1), pages 59-73.
  8. Brad M. Barber & Terrance Odean, 2001. "Boys Will Be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, And Common Stock Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 261-292, February.
  9. Joel L. Schrag, 1999. "First Impressions Matter: A Model Of Confirmatory Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 37-82, February.
  10. Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "A Memory-Based Model Of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 735-774, August.
  11. John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
  12. Goldstein, Daniel G. & Gigerenzer, Gerd, 2008. "The Recognition Heuristic and the Less-Is-More Effect," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  13. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
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