The Prolific experiment will consist of three parts. In the first part, participants have to fill out a survey that elicits information on participants’ demographics (age, gender, education) as well as survey measures of performance goal orientation, mastery goal orientation, feedback orientation, social comparison and Big-5 Personality traits. In additional to these established scales, two open-ended questions (“Think of an experience in the past (e.g., at work or school) where your performance was compared to the performance of others. Please describe in detail how you personally perceived this experience.” and “Imagine the following: You receive information that you are performing worse than others on a task you have been working on. How do you think you would react?“) will be included.
We invite participants again after approximately one week to work on a real-effort task. For this second part of the study, participants are again compensated with a fixed wage. We will not invite participants to the second part of the study who did not seriously answer the open-ended questions in the survey (e.g. answer “abcdefg”).
In the real-effort task, participants have to identify mistakes in 10-row by 15-column grids with symbols, i.e., numbers, letters or emojis. A mistake is defined as a symbol that differs from the most commonly occurring symbol in the specific grid. In each grid, there are between one and five mistakes and participants have to provide the location of each mistake. They have 7.5 minutes to solve as many grids as possible. All participants receive information about the number of correctly identified mistakes on their screen.
After this second part, participants will be randomly assigned to either a RPI treatment or a control group. In the RPI treatment, participants will receive feedback in the form of relative performance information. That is, they receive feedback on their percentile ranks based on how many mistakes they correctly identified during the 7.5 minutes of the real effort task. The percentile rank is computed in comparison to participants from a pilot study in which no RPI was provided. In the control group, participants will not receive any relative performance feedback.
Afterwards, participants work again 7.5 minutes on the same real effort task and, after completing the task , receive information on the number of correctly identified mistakes on their screen as well as their relative performance if they were in the RPI treatment. At the end, they will complete a short post-survey consisting of control questions as well as questions regarding stress while working on the task, enjoyment with the task, whether they would have liked to receive (no) relative performance information, and how important it was for them to do well on the task . At the end of the experiment, participants will be redirected to Prolific and all receive the same fixed compensation, i.e., we will not award financial bonuses.