Intermittent incentives to encourage exercising in the long run

Ayala Arad*, Uri Gneezy, Eli Mograbi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report the results of incentivizing students to exercise. We compare a no-incentive control to a per-visit payment and two intermittent incentive schemes: monetary rewards at increasing intervals and monetary rewards with unpredictable timing. Based on the psychology literature, we predicted that irregular incentives would facilitate the maintenance of reinforced behavior over the long run. In line with this prediction, we found that although all incentive schemes worked well during the incentivized period, only the two intermittent schemes were more effective than the control after incentives were removed and over an extended period of time. These results suggest an innovative way to incentivize individuals, which sets out to improve the long-term success of interventions that encourage the formation of habits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-573
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Exercise
  • Field experiment
  • Incentives
  • Irregular reinforcement


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