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Search, Effort, and Locus of Control

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  • McGee, Andrew

    () (University of Alberta)

  • McGee, Peter

    () (National University of Singapore)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • McGee, Andrew & McGee, Peter, 2011. "Search, Effort, and Locus of Control," IZA Discussion Papers 5948, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5948
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:205-225 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Warn N. Lekfuangfu & Francesca Cornaglia & Nattavudh Powdthavee & Nele Warrinnier, 2014. "Locus of Control and Its Intergenerational Implications for Early Childhood Skill Formation," LICOS Discussion Papers 35314, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    3. Jingcheng Fu & Martin Sefton & Richard Upward, 2017. "Social comparisons in job search: experimental evidence," Discussion Papers 2017-10, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    4. Smriti Sharma & Finn Tarp, 2018. "Does managerial personality matter? Evidence from firms in Viet Nam," WIDER Working Paper Series 017, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. Dohmen, Thomas, 2014. "Behavioral labor economics: Advances and future directions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 71-85.
    6. McGee, Andrew & McGee, Peter, 2016. "Search, effort, and locus of control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 89-101.
    7. Caliendo, Marco & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Hennecke, Juliane & Uhlendorff, Arne, 2015. "Job Search, Locus of Control, and Internal Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 9600, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Andrew D. McGee, 2015. "How the Perception of Control Influences Unemployed Job Search," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 68(1), pages 184-211, January.
    9. Heywood, John S. & Jirjahn, Uwe & Struewing, Cornelia, 2017. "Locus of control and performance appraisal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 205-225.
    10. Silvia Mendolia & Ian Walker, 2015. "Youth unemployment and personality traits," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-26, December.
    11. repec:eee:jeborg:v:143:y:2017:i:c:p:98-115 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Mendolia, Silvia & Walker, Ian, 2014. "Do NEETs Need Grit?," IZA Discussion Papers 8740, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Silvia Mendolia & Ian Walker, 2015. "Youth unemployment and the effect of personality traits," Working Papers 84097960, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    locus of control; reservation wages; labor market search; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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