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Working Too Much for Too Little: Stochastic Rewards Cause Work Addiction

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Listed:
  • Brice Corgnet

    () (Emlyon Business School and Economic Science Institute, Chapman University)

  • Simon Gaechter

    () (Nottingham University)

  • Roberto Hernán González

    () (Burgundy School of Business, Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté)

Abstract

People are generally assumed to shy away from activities generating stochastic rewards, thus requiring extra compensation for handling any additional risk. In contrast with this view, neuroscience research with animals has shown that stochastic rewards may act as a powerful motivator. Applying these ideas to the study of work addiction in humans, and using a new experimental paradigm, we demonstrate how stochastic rewards may lead people to continue working on a repetitive and effortful task even after monetary compensation becomes saliently negligible. In line with our hypotheses, we show that persistence on the work task is especially pronounced when the entropy of stochastic rewards is high, which is also when the work task generates more stress to participants. We discuss the economic and managerial implications of our findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Brice Corgnet & Simon Gaechter & Roberto Hernán González, 2020. "Working Too Much for Too Little: Stochastic Rewards Cause Work Addiction," Working Papers 20-04, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:20-04
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    File URL: https://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/esi_working_papers/297/
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Incentives; Work Addiction; Occupational Health; Experiments;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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