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Social comparisons in job search

Fu, Jingcheng; Sefton, Martin; Upward, Richard


Jingcheng Fu


© 2019 Elsevier B.V. Using a laboratory experiment we examine how social comparisons affect behavior in a sequential search task. In a control treatment subjects search in isolation, while in two other treatments subjects get feedback on the search decisions and outcomes of a partner subject. The average level and rate of decline of reservation wages are similar across treatments. Nevertheless, subjects who are able to make social comparisons search differently from those who search in isolation. Within a search task we observe a reference wage effect: when a partner exits, the subject chooses a new reservation wage which is increasing in partner income. We also observe a social comparison effect between search tasks: subjects whose partners in a previous task searched for longer choose a higher reservation wage in the next task. Our findings imply that the provision of social information can change job-seekers search behavior.


Fu, J., Sefton, M., & Upward, R. (2019). Social comparisons in job search. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 168, 338-361.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 17, 2019
Online Publication Date Oct 22, 2019
Publication Date 2019-12
Deposit Date Jan 17, 2020
Publicly Available Date Apr 23, 2021
Journal Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Print ISSN 0167-2681
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 168
Pages 338-361
Keywords Economics and Econometrics; Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Social comparisons in job search; Journal Title: Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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