Under test-based accountability, undesired teachers' responses -including illicit practices to inflate test results- are usually associated to so-called high-stakes policies. However, the influence of different types of stakes in the generation of undesired effects has been overlooked in education research. Based on a survey experiment, our results indicate that the type and level of stakes (e.g. high- vs low-stakes, material vs symbolic) do not differ in triggering undesired accountability effects. Counterintuitively, individual symbolic consequences trigger similar reactions among teachers than material incentives. In-depth interviews give insights into the social mechanisms that lead to symbolic effects having such an influence in understanding teachers' reactivity to accountability.