Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Is "Real" Effort More Real?

Dutcher, E. Glenn and Salmon, Timothy C. and Saral, Krista J. (2015): Is "Real" Effort More Real?

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Abstract

In recent years, a growing number of studies have researchers opting to use "real" effort designs for laboratory experiments where subjects complete an actual task to exert effort rather than using what is perhaps a more traditional design of stylized effort where subjects simply choose an effort level from a pre-defined set. The commonly argued reason for real effort is that it makes the results more generalizable and field relevant. Some researchers go further and make a distinction between trivial and useful real effort, i.e. whether the task is only relevant for the experiment or if it leads to tangible production for some purpose outside of the experiment, and claim that the useful effort model is even more likely to be generalizable. We present an experiment designed to test whether these three modes of effort, stylized, trivial, and useful, have any impact on behavior in a public goods setting. We find that all three forms of effort lead to identical decision making and then discuss how these results help to inform us about the use of real effort in laboratory experiments.

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