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Study Reveals If People Can Get More Creative When Paid More
By Mikelle Leow, 18 Apr 2019
Image via Shutterstock
Can you pay people to come up with more innovative ideas?
This was the question posed by two economists, Gary Charness from UC Santa Barbara and Daniela Grieco from Bocconi University.
In a new study published in the Journal of the European Economic Association, the duo remembered how margarine came to be after a competition in the 1860s called for inventors to develop a lower-cost butter substitute. In contrast, the economists also pondered if monetary compensation could hinder intrinsic motivations.
The researchers roped in 328 participants to perform a series of “closed” or “open” creative tasks.
“Closed” tasks involved some levels of boundaries; parties were briefed to create stories out of specific keywords or derive at an exact number through mathematical formulas of their choosing. “Open” requests required the participants to describe wholly novel inventions or a future society from the ground up.
The groups’ ideas were ranked on various tiers, some through blind peer reviews while others were told in advance that they would be judged. Each person was handed US$5 just for registering their attendance, but the participant with “most creative” idea would be awarded US$9.
The results were interesting. Charness and Grieco found that when it came to “open” tasks, an increase in monetary incentive did not necessarily lead to better ideas being generated.
However, people tended to get more creative if they were offered more money to perform tasks with certain levels of restrictions, such as if they were given keywords to work with.
At the end of the study, the researchers came back with one more notable takeaway: participants who knew they were going to be ranked by others ended up generating more creative ideas. This means that aside from financial incentives, people care a great deal about how others think of their work.
[via Quartz, cover image via Shutterstock]
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