Published Online:

When pursuing goals, we commonly choose between going it alone versus teaming up together. In a field experiment (n = 774), we tested the benefits of rewarding individual versus tandem goal pursuit. In a standard-reward condition, we experimentally offered gym members an individual cash reward each day they visited the gym for four weeks. Participants in a tandem-reward condition could earn the same reward but only if they surmounted an extra logistical hurdle: they had to visit the gym with a friend. Although this additional requirement made it more difficult for participants in the tandem-reward condition to earn equivalent incentives, participants with this extra hurdle visited the gym about 35% more frequently than those earning a standard reward. A follow-up survey suggests that tandem rewards provide nonmonetary incentives that change behavior, including increased accountability and enjoyment. Our findings illustrate the advantages of making desired behaviors social to promote follow-through.

This paper was accepted by Yan Chen, behavioral economics and decision analysis.

Supplemental Material: The data files are available at

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