Working Too Much for Too Little: Stochastic Rewards Cause Work Addiction

69 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2020

See all articles by Brice Corgnet

Brice Corgnet

University of Saint Etienne - Analysis Group and Economic Theory Lyon St-Etienne (GATE-LSE)

Simon Gaechter

University of Nottingham; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Roberto Hernán-González

Burgundy School of Business

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 18, 2020

Abstract

People are generally assumed to shy away from activities generating stochastic rewards, thus requiring extra compensation for handling any additional risk. In contrast with this view, neuroscience research with animals has shown that stochastic rewards may act as a powerful motivator. Applying these ideas to the study of work addiction in humans, and using a new experimental paradigm, we demonstrate how stochastic rewards may lead people to continue working on a repetitive and effortful task even after monetary compensation becomes saliently negligible. In line with our hypotheses, we show that persistence on the work task is especially pronounced when the entropy of stochastic rewards is high, which is also when the work task generates more stress to participants. We discuss the economic and managerial implications of our findings.

Keywords: Incentives, Work Addiction, Occupational Health, Experiments

JEL Classification: C92, D87, D91, M54

Suggested Citation

Corgnet, Brice and Gachter, Simon and Hernán-González, Roberto, Working Too Much for Too Little: Stochastic Rewards Cause Work Addiction (February 18, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3540225 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3540225

Brice Corgnet (Contact Author)

University of Saint Etienne - Analysis Group and Economic Theory Lyon St-Etienne (GATE-LSE) ( email )

Lyon
France

Simon Gachter

University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Roberto Hernán-González

Burgundy School of Business ( email )

29 Rue Sambin
Dijon, 21000
France

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