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Peers at work: Evidence from the lab


  • Veldhuizen, Roel van
  • Oosterbeek, Hessel
  • Sonnemans, Joep


This paper reports the results of a lab experiment designed to study the role of observability for peer effects in the setting of a simple production task. In our experiment, participants in the role of workers engage in a team real-effort task. We vary whether they can observe, or be observed by, one of their co-workers. In contrast to earlier findings from the field, we find no evidence that low-productivity workers perform better when they are observed by high-productivity co-workers. Instead, our results imply that peer effects in our experiment are heterogeneous, with some workers reciprocating a high-productivity co-worker but others taking the opportunity to free ride.

Suggested Citation

  • Veldhuizen, Roel van & Oosterbeek, Hessel & Sonnemans, Joep, 2018. "Peers at work: Evidence from the lab," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 0192038-019.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:espost:175846

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    Cited by:

    1. Beugnot, Julie & Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2019. "Gender and peer effects on performance in social networks," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 207-224.
    2. Gürerk, Özgür & Bönsch, Andrea & Kittsteiner, Thomas & Staffeldt, Andreas, 2019. "Virtual humans as co-workers: A novel methodology to study peer effects," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 17-29.
    3. Albert, Philipp & Kübler, Dorothea & Silva-Goncalves, Juliana, 2019. "Peer Effects of Ambition," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 148, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    4. Graff, Frederik & Grund, Christian & Harbring, Christine, 2018. "Competing on the Holodeck: The Effect of Virtual Peers and Heterogeneity in Dynamic Tournaments," IZA Discussion Papers 11919, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item


    laboratory experiment; peer group; peer effects; productivity; work habits;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity


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