What is it about?

Tasks to be solved by teams are subject to the dilemma of how much effort puts each teammate in its completion. This structure of group benefits and individual costs creates incentives to contribute less than the others. However, contributing more than the teammates may yield some "ego-utility" when this extra effort is deemed valuable because they can make us look clever and fundamental to the team.

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Why is it important?

Understanding ego-motives in team tasks can improve the design of tasks' allocation and their framing. Moreover, ego-utility has a "dark side" called ego-protection, which is also important to understand because teammates facing very complex tasks may underprovide effort because they do not want to show they failed in front of their teams. We show that, in ego-relevant tasks, the decision to provide a certain amount of effort is more dependent on the teammate's expected effort provision.


We succeed in creating a simple manipulation of the ego-relevance of an IQ test by referring participants (in the treated group) to a published paper that showed a significant relationship between IQ and life outcomes. It is impressive how this was sufficient to make participants more likely to pay for revealing the outcome in their IQ test.

Cesar Mantilla
Universidad Del Rosario

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Ego-relevance in team production, PLoS ONE, December 2022, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0279391.
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