Experimental Economics

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 809–835 | Cite as

Do people who care about others cooperate more? Experimental evidence from relative incentive pay

  • Pablo Hernandez-Lagos
  • Dylan Minor
  • Dana Sisak
Original Paper


We experimentally study ways in which social preferences affect individual and group performance under indefinitely repeated relative incentives. We also identify the mediating role that communication and leadership play in generating these effects. We find other-regarding individuals tend to depress efforts by 15% on average. However, selfish individuals are nearly three times more likely to lead players to coordinate on minimal efforts when communication is possible. Hence, the other-regarding composition of a group has complex consequences for organizational performance.


Social preferences Relative performance Cooperation Leadership 

JEL Classification

M52 D03 C7 C9 



We would like to thank participants of seminars and conferences in Norwich, Rotterdam, Mannheim, Munich, Trier, Fresno, Budapest, Chicago, Zurich, Amsterdam as well as Juan Atal, Ernesto Dal Bó, Josse Delfgaauw, Robert Dur, Dirk Engelmann, Sacha Kapoor, Martin Kolmar, John Morgan, Felix Vardy, Bauke Visser and two anonymous referees. The authors thank the UC Berkeley Xlab (protocol 2011-04-3183) for financial support. Dana Sisak gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Swiss National Science Foundation through Grant PBSGP1-130765.

Supplementary material

10683_2017_9512_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (914 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 914 KB)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pablo Hernandez-Lagos
    • 1
  • Dylan Minor
    • 2
  • Dana Sisak
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.New York University Abu DhabiAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
  2. 2.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  3. 3.Erasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Tinbergen InstituteRotterdamThe Netherlands

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