(The concept of Meaning drives performance (II

Topic: People are performing better when their work has even the simplest meaning.
Researchers: Dan Ariely (Professor of Behavioral Economics, Duke University, US), Amir Kamenitza (Professor of …, University of Chicago, US) and Drazen Prelek (MIT Professor).
Main Conclusion: People are performing better when they ascribe even the simplest meaning to their work.

Description of Experiment
a. Harvard students were given charts of papers with long sequence of letters and asked to identify where the same letter appear twice, side by side. Students were told that each paper holds 10 cases like that and if they identify all of them (per each chart of paper) they will be paid.
b. All students were told that they will be paid $0.55 for the first successful pepaer they build and then 5 cents less for each additional successful paper (e.g. $0.50 cents for the second paper, $0.45 cents for the third paper and so forth).
c. Students were divided into three categories

  • Group A. – asked to write down their names on each paper, which was placed in a pile of papers when completed
  • Group C. – no names and papers were shredded in front of the students once completed

d. Results

  • Group A. – completed an average of 9.03 papers; 49% completed 10 papers or more (and pay was less than 10 cents per paper)
  • Group B. – completed an average of 6.77 papers; 18% completed 10 papers or more (and pay was less than 10 cents per paper)
  • Group C. – completed an average of 6.34 papers; 17% completed 10 papers or more (and pay was less than 10 cents per paper)

Conclusions
Denying credit from an individual works similar to denying meaning from wrk performed, thus reducing performance significantly.