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The slider task: an example of restricted inference on incentive effects


  • Felipe A. Araujo

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Erin Carbone

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Lynn Conell-Price

    (Carnegie Mellon University)

  • Marli W. Dunietz

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Ania Jaroszewicz

    (Carnegie Mellon University)

  • Rachel Landsman

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Diego Lamé

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Lise Vesterlund

    () (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Stephanie W. Wang

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Alistair J. Wilson

    (University of Pittsburgh)


Abstract Real-effort experiments are frequently used when examining a response to incentives. For a real-effort task to be well suited for such an exercise its measurable output must be sufficiently elastic over the incentives considered. The popular slider task in Gill and Prowse (Am Econ Rev 102(1):469–503, 2012) has been characterized as satisfying this requirement, and the task is increasingly used to investigate the response to incentives. However, a between-subject examination of the slider task’s response to incentives has 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 only a small increase in performance: despite a 1500 % increase in the incentives, output only increases by 5 %. With such an inelastic response we caution that for typical experimental sample sizes and incentives the slider task is unlikely to demonstrate a meaningful and statistically significant performance response.

Suggested Citation

  • Felipe A. Araujo & Erin Carbone & Lynn Conell-Price & Marli W. Dunietz & Ania Jaroszewicz & Rachel Landsman & Diego Lamé & Lise Vesterlund & Stephanie W. Wang & Alistair J. Wilson, 2016. "The slider task: an example of restricted inference on incentive effects," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 1-12, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jesaex:v:2:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s40881-016-0025-7 DOI: 10.1007/s40881-016-0025-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
    2. Brice Corgnet & Roberto Hernán-González & Eric Schniter, 2015. "Why real leisure really matters: incentive effects on real effort in the laboratory," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(2), pages 284-301, June.
    3. Andrew Schotter & Keith Weigelt, 1992. "Asymmetric Tournaments, Equal Opportunity Laws, and Affirmative Action: Some Experimental Results," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 511-539.
    4. Katharina M. Eckartz, 2014. "Task enjoyment and opportunity costs in the lab - the effect of financial incentives on performance in real effort tasks," Jena Economic Research Papers 2014-005, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    5. David Gill & Victoria Prowse, 2012. "A Structural Analysis of Disappointment Aversion in a Real Effort Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 469-503, February.
    6. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1987. "Tournaments and Piece Rates: An Experimental Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 1-33, February.
    7. 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.
    8. Lilley, Andrew & Slonim, Robert, 2014. "The price of warm glow," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 58-74.
    9. Robert Slonim & Alvin E. Roth, 1998. "Learning in High Stakes Ultimatum Games: An Experiment in the Slovak Republic," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 569-596, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Simon Gaechter & Lingbo Huang & Martin Sefton, 2017. "Disappointment Aversion and Social Comparisons in a Real-Effort Competition," CESifo Working Paper Series 6489, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. repec:eee:jeborg:v:138:y:2017:i:c:p:1-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:gam:jgames:v:8:y:2017:i:3:p:26-:d:102964 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Jared Rubin & Anya Samek & Roman Sheremeta, 2016. "Incentivizing Quantity and Quality of Output: An Experimental Investigation of The Quantity-Quality Trade-Off," Artefactual Field Experiments 00438, The Field Experiments Website.
    5. Ravid, Oded & Malul, Miki & Zultan, Ro’i, 2017. "The effect of economic cycles on job satisfaction in a two-sector economy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 1-9.
    6. repec:eee:eecrev:v:101:y:2018:i:c:p:528-545 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Gall, Thomas & Hu, Xiaocheng & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2016. "Dynamic Incentive Effects of Team Formation: Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 10393, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Real-effort; Slider task; Incentives;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General


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