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Search, Effort, and Locus of Control

  • McGee, Andrew

    ()

    (Simon Fraser University)

  • McGee, Peter

    ()

    (National University of Singapore)

We test the hypothesis that locus of control – one's perception of control over events in life – influences search by affecting beliefs about the efficacy of search effort in a laboratory experiment. We find that reservation offers and effort are increasing in the belief that one's efforts influence outcomes when subjects exert effort without knowing how effort influences the generation of offers but are unrelated to locus of control beliefs when subjects are informed about the relationship between effort and offers. These effects cannot be explained by locus of control's correlation with unmeasured human capital, personality traits, and the costs of search – alternative explanations for the relationships between locus of control and search behavior that cannot be ruled out using survey data – as the search task does not vary across treatments, which leads us to conclude that locus of control influences search through beliefs about the efficacy of search effort. Our findings provide evidence that locus of control measures can be used to identify job seekers at risk of becoming "discouraged" and abandoning search.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5948.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5948
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  1. Marco Caliendo & Deborah Cobb-Clark & Arne Uhlendorff, 2010. "Locus of Control and Job Search Strategies," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 979, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis & Melissa Osborne, 2001. "Incentive-Enhancing Preferences: Personality, Behavior and Earnings," Working Papers 01-01-004, Santa Fe Institute.
  3. Margo Coleman & Thomas DeLeire, 2003. "An Economic Model of Locus of Control and the Human Capital Investment Decision," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(3).
  4. Paul J. Andrisani, 1977. "Internal-External Attitudes, Personal Initiative, and the Labor Market Experience of Black and White Men," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 12(3), pages 308-328.
  5. Juan D. Baron & Deborah Cobb-Clark, 2010. "Are Young People's Educational Outcomes Linked to Their Sense of Control?," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2010n05, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  6. Groves, Melissa Osborne, 2005. "How important is your personality? Labor market returns to personality for women in the US and UK," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 827-841, December.
  7. Meta Brown & Christopher J. Flinn & Andrew Schotter, 2009. "Real-time search in the laboratory and the market," Staff Reports 410, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  8. Piatek, Rémi & Pinger, Pia, 2010. "Maintaining (Locus of) Control? Assessing the Impact of Locus of Control on Education Decisions and Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 5289, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Goldsmith, Arthur H & Veum, Jonathan R & Darity, William, Jr, 1997. "The Impact of Psychological and Human Capital on Wages," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(4), pages 815-29, October.
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