Effort Aversion: Job choice and compensation decisions overweight effort



Comerford DA & Ubel PA (2013) Effort Aversion: Job choice and compensation decisions overweight effort. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 92, pp. 152-162.

The current research proposes that people avoid choosing effortful work even when they predict that it will provide them with a better working experience, a phenomenon we call Effort Aversion. In each of the studies, we presented a choice between an effortless but boring job and an effortful but enjoyable job. Study 1 found that participants were willing to accept lower wages to work at the effortless job, but they preferred the effortful job. This preference reversal is explained by the greater consideration wage setters gave to effort. Study 2 is a consequential lab experiment, in which participants were assigned to work at a job based on the wage they set. Those whose wage demands led them to be assigned to the effortless job experienced lower enjoyment than those who were assigned to the effortful job. Study 3 demonstrates that preference reversal was not attenuated by drawing attention to the hedonic experience afforded by work.

Job choice; Preference reversal; Effort aversion

Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization: Volume 92

Publication date31/08/2013
Date accepted by journal23/05/2013

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Professor David Comerford

Professor David Comerford

Professor, Economics