Operant behavioral economics is a field that analyzes human decision making by combining concepts of behavioral psychology and consumer demand theory. A relatively new and effective method of collecting data in behavioral economics is the hypothetical purchase task (HPT), which reveals consumers’ demand for a commodity as price increases by asking participants to respond to hypothetical situations rather than having them work for and consume the commodity. Henley, Reed, Kaplan, and Reed (2016) extended the HPT to create a novel task (the Hypothetical Work Task; HWT) to assess workers’ demand for payment under increasing conditions of work effort. Their study demonstrated the potential for HWTs in organizational behavior management (OBM), but researchers noted three main limitations: (a) their use of college students as participants, (b) the type of work task, which involved passing out flyers on a college campus, and (c) relatively small sample sizes for group comparisons. In the current study, we replicated one of Henley et al.’s experiments while addressing these limitations. First, we assessed the HWT in working adults rather than college students. Second, we used a work task that is more representative of some workplaces (i.e., making sales calls). Third, we used larger sample sizes to increase statistical power. We asked participants to rate how likely they were to make a certain number of sales phone calls (0 = will not make the phone calls to 100 = will definitely make the phone calls) to earn $15 at the end of an hour of work. The number of calls to earn the $15 was systematically increased from 1 to 150. Compared to those with no sales experience, participants with sales experience showed higher levels of demand in the face of increasing prices (i.e., more inelastic demand). Our study did not replicate the findings of Henley et al. but did extend the HWT to a new population of participants and a different work task.
"Behavioral Economic Analysis of Demand for Hypothetical Work Performance: A Partial Replication,"
McNair Research Journal SJSU: Vol. 16
, Article 7.
Available at: https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/mcnair/vol16/iss1/7