Psychological Foundations of Incentives
Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); University of Bonn - Economic Science Area; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)
University of Zurich - Department of Economics
CEPR Discussion Paper No. 3185
During the last two decades economists have made much progress in understanding incentives, contracts and organizations. Yet, they constrained their attention to a very narrow and empirically questionable view of human motivation. The purpose of this Paper is to show that this narrow view of human motivation may severely limit understanding the determinants and effects of incentives. Economists may fail to understand the levels and the changes in behavior if they neglect motives like the desire to reciprocate or the desire to avoid social disapproval. We show that monetary incentives may backfire and reduce the performance of agents or their compliance with rules. In addition, these motives may generate very powerful incentives themselves.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 56
Keywords: Incentives, contracts, reciprocity, social approval, social norms, intrinsic motivationworking papers series
Date posted: February 20, 2002
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