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Financial Incentives and Cognitive Abilities: Evidence from a Forecasting Task with Varying Cognitive Load


  • Ondrej Rydval

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena, Germany.)


I examine how financial incentives interact with intrinsic motivation and especially cognitive abilities in explaining heterogeneity in performance. Using a forecasting task with varying cognitive load, I show that the effectiveness of high-powered financial incentives as a stimulator of economic performance can be moderated by cognitive abilities in a causal fashion. Identifying the causality of cognitive abilities is a prerequisite for studying their interaction with financial and intrinsic incentives in a unifying framework, with implications for the design of efficient incentive schemes.

Suggested Citation

  • Ondrej Rydval, 2007. "Financial Incentives and Cognitive Abilities: Evidence from a Forecasting Task with Varying Cognitive Load," Jena Economic Research Papers 2007-040, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2007-040

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Drummond, Michael F. & Sculpher, Mark J. & Torrance, George W. & O'Brien, Bernie J. & Stoddart, Greg L., 2005. "Methods for the Economic Evaluation of Health Care Programmes," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 3, number 9780198529453, June.
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    3. Banta, David, 2003. "The development of health technology assessment," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 121-132, February.
    4. Ernst R. Berndt & Rachel Glennerster & Michael R. Kremer & Jean Lee & Ruth Levine & Georg Weizsäcker & Heidi Williams, 2007. "Advance market commitments for vaccines against neglected diseases: estimating costs and effectiveness," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(5), pages 491-511.
    5. McDaid, David & Cookson, Richard AU -, 2003. "Evaluating health care interventions in the European Union," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 133-139, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2011. "Cognitive load in the multi-player prisoner's dilemma game," MPRA Paper 30856, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Chen, Chia-Ching & Chiu, I-Ming & Smith, John & Yamada, Tetsuji, 2011. "Too smart to be selfish? Measures of intelligence, social preferences, and consistency," MPRA Paper 34438, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Burnham, Terence C. & Cesarini, David & Wallace, Björn & Johannesson, Magnus & Lichtenstein, Paul, 2007. "Billiards and Brains: Cognitive Ability and Behavior in a p-Beauty Contest," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 684, Stockholm School of Economics.
    4. Rydval, Ondrej & Ortmann, Andreas & Ostatnicky, Michal, 2009. "Three very simple games and what it takes to solve them," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 589-601, October.
    5. Sasha Prokosheva, 2014. "Comparing Decisions under Compound Risk and Ambiguity: The Importance of Cognitive Skills," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp525, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.

    More about this item


    Financial incentives; Cognitive ability; Heterogeneity; Performance; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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