To Incentivize or Not: Impact of Blockchain-Based Cryptoeconomic Tokens on Human Information Sharing Behavior


Tokens based on Blockchain technology that offer cryptoeconomic incentives are seen as a potential enabler of the sharing economy, which in turn could move society in the direction of greater environmental sustainability. Despite this, there is still only a limited amount of knowledge regarding the effect that these tokens have on the behavior of humans when it comes to sharing, which makes it difficult to design efficient cryptoeconomic incentives. Within the context of an information-sharing scenario, the theory of self-determination is utilized in this study to investigate the effect that tokens of this kind have on human behavior. The effects of two token incentives on human information-sharing behavior are analyzed through the utilization of an experimental methodology in the form of a randomized control trial with a 22 factorial design involving 132 participants. In exchange for the information that they share, individuals are rewarded with these tokens. Individuals receive a monetary payment and build reputation in accordance with the amount of tokens they have collected. The purpose of this study is to investigate, among other things, the effect that these incentives have on the total amount of information that is shared, as well as the quality characteristics of the information, such as its precision and its contextualization. In previous work, one of the limitations that was identified was the excessive emphasis placed on quantity at the expense of quality. The findings of this paper point to a previously unreported interaction effect between multiple tokens when they are applied simultaneously. In addition to confirming effects that were previously known, such as a crowding-out of intrinsic motivation by incentives, which also exists for Blockchain-based tokens, the findings of this paper point to a hitherto unreported interaction effect between multiple tokens. The findings are analyzed, and a critical discussion that places the findings within the context of recent work and ethical considerations follows. The theory-based empirical study is of interest to those who are investigating the effect of cryptoeconomic tokens or digital currencies on human behavior. Additionally, the study lends support to the community in the process of designing efficient personalized incentives for sharing economies.

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