Incentives, Complexity, and Motivations in Experiments

47 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2006

See all articles by Anna Bassi

Anna Bassi

UNC Chapel Hill

Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Kenneth Williams

Michigan State University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: June 24, 2006

Abstract

We compare three motivation procedures in a voting experiment: 1) subjects paid a flat fee for participating, 2) subjects paid according to choices as is typical in a political economy experiment, and 3) subjects paid double the typical amount. We also vary complexity of the voting game. Financial incentives significantly increase the probability that subjects choose Bayesian-Nash predicted strategies. In the simpler game the typical financial incentive is sufficient, higher payments have no effect. But in the complex game, increasing financial incentives beyond the typical level is consequential. Further, repetition interacts with typical financial incentives in the complex game to increase the likelihood of Bayesian-Nash strategies. The evidence suggests that financial incentives increase subjects' cognitive attention to experimental tasks as individuals would be in comparable observational settings, which enhances theory evaluation in experiments and the external validity of the results.

Keywords: financial incentives, motivations, experiments

Suggested Citation

Bassi, Anna and Morton, Rebecca and Williams, Kenneth, Incentives, Complexity, and Motivations in Experiments (June 24, 2006). 1st Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=913367 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.913367

Anna Bassi

UNC Chapel Hill ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.unc.edu/~abassi

Rebecca Morton (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-998-3706 (Phone)

Kenneth Williams

Michigan State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

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