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Chair of Social & Economic Psychology

Research Projects

Motivational States and Incentives

Project Description

Research on economic decision making has shown that increasing monetary incentives does not always improve decision-making performance (and sometimes even impairs it). We observed in previous research that different motivational states affect decision making, sometimes surprisingly more than increasing monetary incentives. This impact can go in opposite directions. While certain motivational states seem to lead to more rational behavior, others can result in strong deviations from rationality. Whether the influence of motivational states and monetary incentives on decision making is based on automatic or controlled processes is unclear in the literature at this point. The present project will explore this question by manipulating different motivational states and comparing their effects on economic decision making. By testing the impact of motivational states and incentives on processes of economic decision making, we will investigate whether or not there are defaults (e.g., overconfidence in own skills) that rely on automatic processes and are thus implemented immediately, quickly, unconsciously, and without much effort (Alós-Ferrer and Strack, 2014; Strack and Deutsch, 2004). Crucially, we will examine whether these defaults can be controlled by motivational states at all or whether they are too robust to be changed. If they can be influenced, the question will be whether controlled processes of decision making are absolutely necessary or whether some motivational states can trigger automatic processes interfering with the default mode. We aim at behavioral regulation, and specifically at the possibility to optimize economic decision making by inducing specific motivational states (or preventing certain states). We also plan to study gender effects in motivation. Our results will also contribute to the gender discussion on overconfidence. Our objective is to single out specific motivational interventions (that can be self-induced) to help female decision makers increase their confidence in their own knowledge and skills.

Contact: Prof Dr rer nat Anja Achtziger

Project Duration

from 01.10.2015 through 30.09.2018

Project Head

Prof Dr rer nat Anja Achtziger

Project Execution