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Incentives to Persevere
Initial registration date
September 19, 2019
February 13, 2020 7:01 AM EST
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Other Primary Investigator(s)
University of Technology Sydney
Additional Trial Information
Achieving success often requires persistent efforts over a long period of time. Persistent effort, however, is hard. While gritty ones can rely on their own stamina, many others probably do not have enough willpower to maintain effort for a long period of time. This project examines whether we can design external mechanisms to incentivize persistent efforts.
We design different incentive mechanisms aimed at promoting perseverant effort.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Full completion rate of the tasks; zero completion rate; completion rate after one failure; when do subjects start to work on the task in each week; the quality of the completed work .
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
We addressed undergraduate students enrolled in the introductory microeconomics course. For each week of lecture during the semester, the lecturer created pre-lecture contents to facilitate learning at home. Each week, students were given an online quiz that tested their understanding of the contents prior to the lecture. There were 9 quizzes that contributed a total of 10% towards each student’s final grade in the unit. Students were randomly assigned one of the three treatments: piece rate, all-or-nothing, and self-select. At the beginning of the first tutorial session, tutors were given the scripts to read to students. The instructions provided details about the types of incentives.
Study 2 In Study 2, participants were invited to work on an online survey over four weeks (one in each week). Depending on treatment, the subject would either receive the payment based on the number of survey they complete (piece rate treatment) or would have to complete all surveys to receive the payment (exogenously imposed all-or-nothing treatment). We also allowed the subjects to choose between the piece rate or the all-or-nothing option (the self-select treatment). Treatments in our subsequent studies (Study 3-6) that are similar to Study 1 and 2 except in some treatments we encourage the participants into choosing the ‘all-or-nothing’ reward mechanism in different ways. As in all the studies, we include both the baseline and the Self-select treatments, we are able to check whether we could replicate the effect of “self-select treatments” in different years and/or in different courses.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Quizzes: students were randomly allocated to different tutorial groups, and the treatments were randomised by tutors
Surveys: randomization was done by gender and school
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Approximately 3600 students
Sample size: planned number of observations
Approximately 3600 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Study 1 (343): 103 baseline; 86 all-or-nothing; 154 self-select
Study 2 (406): 132 baseline; 131 all-or-nothing; 143 self-select
Study 3 (336): 103 baseline; 131 self-select (no encouragement); 102 self-select (with encouragement)
Study 4 (500): 114 baseline; 198 self-select (no bonus); 188 self-select (with bonus)
Study 5 (373): 114 baseline; 146 self-select (no encouragement); 113 self-select (with encouragement)
Study 6 (549): Phase 1 132 baseline; 417 self-select (encouragement)
Phase 2 (207): 207 self-select (encouragement)
2020 (planned) Phase 1 (Introductory micro class): 130 baseline; 420 self-select (encouragement) Phase 2(Introductory macro class): 420 self-select (encouragement)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date