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Bad News: An Experimental Study on the Informational Effects Of Rewards

Listed author(s):
  • Andrei Bremzen

    ()

    (CEFIR and New Economic School)

  • Elena Khokhlova

    (McKinsey & Company)

  • Anton Suvorov

    (Higher School of Economics)

  • Jeroen van de Ven

    (Amsterdam Center for Law and Economics, University of Amsterdam, and Tinbergen Institute)

Psychologists and economists have argued that rewards often have hidden costs. One possible reason is that the principal may have incentives to offer higher rewards when she knows the task is difficult. Our experiment tests if high rewards embody such bad news and if this is correctly perceived by their recipients. Our design allows us to decompose the overall effect of rewards on effort into a direct incentive and an informational effect. The results show that participants correctly interpret high rewards as bad news. In accordance with theory, the negative informational effect coexists with the direct positive effect. © 2015 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/REST_a_00424
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 97 (2015)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 55-70

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:97:y:2015:i:1:p:55-70
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