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Working when no one is watching: Motivation, test scores, and economic success


Segal, Carmit (2012). Working when no one is watching: Motivation, test scores, and economic success. Management Science, 58(8):1438-1457.

Abstract

This paper provides evidence that scores on simple, low-stakes tests are associated with future economic success because the scores also reflect test takers' personality traits associated with their level of intrinsic motivation. To establish this, I use the coding speed test that was administered without incentives to participants in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). I show that, controlling for cognitive ability, the coding speed scores are correlated with future earnings of male NLSY participants. I provide evidence that the coding speed scores relate to intrinsic motivation. I show that the scores of the highly motivated, though less educated, group (potential recruits to the U.S. military), are higher than the NLSY participants' scores. I use controlled experiments to show directly that intrinsic motivation is an important component of the unincentivized coding speed scores and that it relates to test takers' personality traits.

Abstract

This paper provides evidence that scores on simple, low-stakes tests are associated with future economic success because the scores also reflect test takers' personality traits associated with their level of intrinsic motivation. To establish this, I use the coding speed test that was administered without incentives to participants in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). I show that, controlling for cognitive ability, the coding speed scores are correlated with future earnings of male NLSY participants. I provide evidence that the coding speed scores relate to intrinsic motivation. I show that the scores of the highly motivated, though less educated, group (potential recruits to the U.S. military), are higher than the NLSY participants' scores. I use controlled experiments to show directly that intrinsic motivation is an important component of the unincentivized coding speed scores and that it relates to test takers' personality traits.

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32 citations in Web of Science®
29 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:18 April 2012
Deposited On:03 Dec 2012 10:16
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 16:55
Publisher:Institute for Operations Research and the Management Science
ISSN:0025-1909
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1110.1509

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