Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: All work and no pay? Effects of reward structures on perceptions of social mobility in the United States
Authors: Bearns Tablante, Courtney
Advisors: Fiske, Susan T
Contributors: Psychology Department
Keywords: Effort
Personal control
Protestant Work Ethic
Social class
Social mobility
Subjects: Psychology
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Perceptions of social mobility and the belief that hard work leads to rewards have been linked with a number of individual differences, such as ideology, education, and socioeconomic status. However, as individuals often generalize their own experiences to perceptions of others, lived experiences are likely to also play an important role in shaping beliefs about social mobility. I test this theory in an online game paradigm adapted from previous research on scarcity (Shah, Mullainathan, & Shafir, 2012). In four studies, participants played a "Family Feud-style" quiz game in which points were awarded for correct answers. Participants could choose to answer from three to fifty-seven questions, and those who accumulated the most points were entered into a raffle for $50. In one condition, effort was increasingly rewarded by a scaling reward system in which each question was worth more points than the previous. I find that participants whose perseverance is rewarded in this way generally feel more personal control and perceive higher social mobility in the U.S. compared to participants whose potential points were held constant across questions, or determined randomly for each question. However, the statistical significance of this pattern was inconsistent across studies. This set of studies provides preliminary evidence that perceptions of social mobility can be shaped by even brief experiences in the context of an experiment; further research will clarify this effect.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Psychology

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
BearnsTablante_princeton_0181D_11356.pdf737.38 kBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.