Putting social rewards and identity salience to the test: Evidence from a field experiment with teachers in Philadelphia

Main Article Content

Syon P. Bhanot
Gordon Kraft-Todd
David Rand
Erez Yoeli

Keywords

Behavioral policy, Identity, Social incentives, Field experiment, Education

Abstract

We partnered with the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) to run a randomized experiment testing interventions to increase teacher participation in an annual feedback survey, an uncompensated task that requires a teacher's time but helps the educational system overall. Our experiment varied the nature of the incentive scheme used, and the associated messaging. In the experiment, all 8,062 active teachers in the SDP were randomly assigned to receive one of four emails using a 2x2 experimental design; specifically, teachers received a lottery-based financial incentive to complete the survey that was either "personal" (a chance to win one of fifteen $100 gift cards for themselves) or "social" (a chance to win one of fifteen $100 gift cards for supplies for their students), and also received email messaging that either did or did not make salient their identity as an educator. Despite abundant statistical power, we find no discernible differences across our conditions on survey completion rates. One implication of these null results is that from a public administration perspective, social rewards may be preferable since funds used for this purpose by school districts go directly to students (through increased expenditure on student supplies), and do not seem less efficacious than personal financial incentives for teachers.

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