Financial incentives and the "performance of crowds"

Winter Mason, Duncan J. Watts
2009 Proceedings of the ACM SIGKDD Workshop on Human Computation - HCOMP '09  
The relationship between financial incentives and performance, long of interest to social scientists, has gained new relevance with the advent of web-based "crowd-sourcing" models of production. Here we investigate the effect of compensation on performance in the context of two experiments, conducted on Amazon's Mechanical Turk (AMT). We find that increased financial incentives increase the quantity, but not the quality, of work performed by participants, where the difference appears to be due
more » ... appears to be due to an "anchoring" effect: workers who were paid more also perceived the value of their work to be greater, and thus were no more motivated than workers paid less. In contrast with compensation levels, we find the details of the compensation scheme do matter-specifically, a "quota" system results in better work for less pay than an equivalent "piece rate" system. Although counterintuitive, these findings are consistent with previous laboratory studies, and may have real-world analogs as well.
doi:10.1145/1600150.1600175 dblp:conf/kdd/MasonW09 fatcat:w2infhq5czbazk7d3qloh7efru