Agents’ Performance and Emotions: An Experimental Investigation

Lezzi, Emanuela (2014) Agents’ Performance and Emotions: An Experimental Investigation. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This doctoral thesis is structured in three essays. In the first essay (Chapter 2) I
explore the behavioural effects of anxiety on agents’ performance. I hypothesize
that a certain level of tension and pressure can induce agents to exert more effort,
according to theories of anxiety in psychology. The negative valence associated to
this emotion might propose an impairment in performance. On the contrary, the
laboratory economic experiment I have run shows that when an anxious mood is
induced individuals are more likely to exert more effort. Anxiety leads to performance
In the second essay (Chapter 3) I raise a methodological issue on the use of effort
tasks in economic experiments. Effort tasks are usually assumed to lead to similar
results. However, the choice of the effort task can significantly drive experimental
results. I have conducted an economic experiment where I compare four different
effort tasks which give a measure of participants’ performance or investment when
they compete for a prize. Results show that there is no equivalence between the
types of task applied.
The last essay (Chapter 4) is a substantial part of a joint project with Professor
Daniel J. Zizzo. We ran an experiment where participants are asked to enter a
2-player prize competition. Each pair consists of a High Type participant, who
performs a previous real effort task better, and a Low Type participant, who performs
a previous real effort task worse. Participants receive feedback on their performance
rank and their opponents’ performance rank. They are also informed about the
allocation of an extra monetary reward. Participants are then asked to choose their
level of investment. They can also sabotage their opponent. Results show that
perceived unfairness of the reward allocation rule, expectations of investment and
sabotage, and competitive feelings affect participants’ behaviour in the contest.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Economics
Depositing User: Users 2259 not found.
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2014 10:48
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2014 10:48


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