Combining “real effort” with induced effort costs: the ball-catching task

Research paper by Simon Gächter, Lingbo Huang, Martin Sefton

Indexed on: 09 Sep '15Published on: 09 Sep '15Published in: Experimental Economics


We introduce the “ball-catching task”, a novel computerized task, which combines a tangible action (“catching balls”) with induced material cost of effort. The central feature of the ball-catching task is that it allows researchers to manipulate the cost of effort function as well as the production function, which permits quantitative predictions on effort provision. In an experiment with piece-rate incentives we find that the comparative static and the point predictions on effort provision are remarkably accurate. We also present experimental findings from three classic experiments, namely, team production, gift exchange and tournament, using the task. All of the results are closely in line with the stylized facts from experiments using purely induced values. We conclude that the ball-catching task combines the advantages of real effort tasks with the use of induced values, which is useful for theory-testing purposes as well as for applications.