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Comparing the effectiveness of individualistic, altruistic, and competitive incentives in motivating completion of mental exercises

Author

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  • Schofield, Heather
  • Loewenstein, George
  • Kopsic, Jessica
  • Volpp, Kevin G.

Abstract

This study examines the impact of individually oriented, purely altruistic, and a hybrid of competitive and cooperative monetary reward incentives on older adults’ completion of cognitive exercises and cognitive function. We find that all three incentive structures approximately double the number of exercises completed during the six-week active experimental period relative to a no incentive control condition. However, the altruistic and cooperative/competitive incentives led to different patterns of participation, with significantly higher inter-partner correlations in utilization of the software, as well as greater persistence once incentives were removed. Provision of all incentives significantly improved performance on the incentivized exercises. However, results of an independent cognitive testing battery suggest no generalizable gains in cognitive function resulted from the training.

Suggested Citation

  • Schofield, Heather & Loewenstein, George & Kopsic, Jessica & Volpp, Kevin G., 2015. "Comparing the effectiveness of individualistic, altruistic, and competitive incentives in motivating completion of mental exercises," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 286-299.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:44:y:2015:i:c:p:286-299
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2015.09.007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. John Cawley & Joshua A. Price, 2011. "Outcomes in a Program that Offers Financial Rewards for Weight Loss," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 91-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    4. Nalbantian, Haig R & Schotter, Andrew, 1997. "Productivity under Group Incentives: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 314-341, June.
    5. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2010. "Social Incentives in the Workplace," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 417-458.
    6. Dan Acland & Matthew R. Levy, 2015. "Naiveté, Projection Bias, and Habit Formation in Gym Attendance," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(1), pages 146-160, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Loewenstein, George & Price, Joseph & Volpp, Kevin, 2016. "Habit formation in children: Evidence from incentives for healthy eating," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 47-54.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cognitive exercises; Incentives; Social incentives; Behavioral economics; Health behaviors;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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