DP12208 Self-worth versus net worth: Image motivation and the quantity-quality trade-off

Author(s): Michelle Brock
Publication Date: August 2017
Keyword(s): intrinsic incentives, judges, professionalism, real-effort task, Self-image, Tajikistan
JEL(s): D91, J33, M52
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12208

Self-image concerns can motivate behaviour over which it is difficult to contract. We investigate how self-image concerns impact the quantity-quality trade-off of professionals, independent of external reputation. To do so, we use a framed field experiment with judges. The experiment measures the effect of self-image concerns compared to that of a bonus and to that of combing both incentives. We find that while both incentives increase the quantity of work, bonuses generate much worse quality. Subjects are less willing to engage in opportunistic behaviour to earn the bonus, however, if a peer might see their work, albeit anonymously.