Time Pressure: Preferences and Performance Effects

Last registered on June 12, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Time Pressure: Preferences and Performance Effects
Initial registration date
May 25, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
May 25, 2021, 4:26 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
June 12, 2024, 4:52 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

Lund University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Amsterdam
PI Affiliation
University of Amsterdam

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
We design a new experiment to measure the effect of time pressure on performance in cognitive tasks as well as individual preferences for working under time pressure. In the experiment, participants first solve adding-numbers games under different time limits and then choose their own payment schemes. Our within-subject design allows us to look into individual heterogeneity in the ability to perform under time pressure. Results from our experiment could shed light on the use of time pressure as an incentive device and lay the groundwork for future research into the ability to deal with time pressure as an individual trait that is relevant for education and labor market outcomes.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Buser, Thomas, Roel van Veldhuizen and Yang Zhong. 2024. "Time Pressure: Preferences and Performance Effects." AEA RCT Registry. June 12. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7667-2.1
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
(1) Performance on the cognitive task.
(2) Incentivized time pressure choices in round 5 of the experiment.
(3) Survey measures of time pressure resistance
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Participants work on a cognitive task for five rounds. In the first four rounds, the time pressure for the task varies in a random way. In the fifth round, participants choose their payment scheme; there is a tradeoff between higher maximal pay and lower time pressure.
Experimental Design Details
Participants in the laboratory experiment work on a cognitive task (finding two numbers that add up to a target number) for five rounds; each round consists of 10 games. In the first four rounds, we randomly vary the time limit for a given game to be either 15, 25 or 60 seconds or to have no time limit. Participants get paid 10 Euros minus 1 Euro for each game they are unable to complete.

In the fifth round, we instead ask people to choose the amount of time pressure. For this purpose, they go through several price lists in which they choose between no time limit and a starting budget of 10 Euro and a lower time limit (either 15, 25 or 60 seconds) with a starting budget that varies from 10 to 20 Euros across the rows of the price list. In addition, participants also make three choices between competing at a lower time pressure and competing at a higher time pressure against an opponent who faced the same time pressure as them. One of the decisions made in this round gets randomly implemented for all 10 games that participants complete in this round.

At the end of the experiment, one of the five rounds gets randomly selected for payment. In addition, participants go through two short questionnaires, one before and one after the main experiment. These questionnaires collect survey measures of personality traits (big-five, competitiveness and time pressure resistance) and an incentivized measure of risk preferences.
Randomization Method
Randomization by a computer
Randomization Unit
We randomize at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
200 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
200 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
200 individuals
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
See the pre-analysis plan

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethics Committee Economics and Business (University of Amsterdam)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
EC 20210304100329
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents


MD5: 720bd9947b12afca6957f60ecd50c656

SHA1: 4dd95a4b64f41b43c1e95aad7ca088db473ee494

Uploaded At: May 19, 2021


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
June 10, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
June 10, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Many professional and educational settings require individuals to be willing and able to perform under time pressure. We use a lab experiment and survey data to study preferences for working under time pressure. We make three main contributions. First, we develop an incentivized method to measure preferences for working under time pressure and document that participants in our lab experiment are averse to working under time pressure on average. Second, we show that there is substantial heterogeneity in the degree of time pressure
aversion across individuals and that these individual preferences can be partially captured by simple survey questions. Third, we include these questions in a survey of bachelor students and a nationally representative survey panel and show that time pressure preferences predict career choices and income. Our results indicate that individual differences in time pressure aversion could be an influential factor in determining labor market outcomes.
Buser, Thomas, Roel van Veldhuizen and Yang Zhong (2024): Time Pressure Preferences. Management Science.

Reports & Other Materials