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Incentives to Exercise

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  • Gary Charness
  • Uri Gneezy

Abstract

Can incentives be effective in encouraging the development of good habits? We investigate the post-intervention effects of paying people to attend a gym a number of times during one month. In two studies we find marked attendance increases after the intervention relative to attendance changes for the respective control groups. This is entirely driven by people who did not previously attend the gym on a regular basis. In our second study, we find improvements on health indicators such as weight, waist size, and pulse rate, suggesting the intervention led to a net increase in total physical activity rather than to a substitution away from nonincentivized ones. We argue that there is scope for financial intervention in habit formation, particularly in the area of health. Copyright 2009 The Econometric Society.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 77 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (05)
Pages: 909-931

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Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:77:y:2009:i:3:p:909-931

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References

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  1. Gary S. Becker, 1991. "Habits, Addictions, and Traditions," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 71, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  2. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2002. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," CEPR Discussion Papers 3185, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "A fine is a price," Natural Field Experiments 00258, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
  6. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
  7. Botond Kőszegi & Paul Heidhues, 2008. "Competition and Price Variation When Consumers Are Loss Averse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1245-68, September.
  8. Heidhues, Paul & Köszegi, Botond, 2005. "The Impact of Consumer Loss Aversion on Pricing," CEPR Discussion Papers 4849, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2004. "Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1558-1590, December.
  10. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
  11. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S164-S187, February.
  12. Roland Benabou and Jean Tirole, 2004. "Willpower and Personal Rules," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 848-886, August.
  13. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
  14. Dan Ariely & George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 2003. ""Coherent Arbitrariness": Stable Demand Curves Without Stable Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 73-105, February.
  15. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. d'Adda, Giovanna, 2011. "Motivation crowding in environmental protection: Evidence from an artefactual field experiment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 2083-2097, September.
  2. Linardi, Sera & Tanaka, Tomomi, 2013. "Competition as a savings incentive: A field experiment at a homeless shelter," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 240-251.
  3. Dan Acland & Matthew Levy, 2013. "Naivete, projection bias, and habit formation in gym attendance," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 46827, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Boris Augurzky & Arndt Reichert & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2012. "The Effect of a Bonus Program for Preventive Health Behavior on Health Expenditures," Ruhr Economic Papers 0373, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  5. Fink, Günther & McConnell, Margaret & Vollmer, Sebastian, 2011. "Testing for Heterogeneous Treatment Effects in Experimental Data: False Discovery Risks and Correction Procedures," Diskussionspapiere der Wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Leibniz Universität Hannover dp-477, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  6. Peter Kooreman & Henriëtte Prast, 2010. "What Does Behavioral Economics Mean for Policy? Challenges to Savings and Health Policies in the Netherlands," De Economist, Springer, vol. 158(2), pages 101-122, June.
  7. Arndt Reichert, 2012. "Obesity, Weight Loss, and Employment Prospects – Evidence from a Randomized Trial," Ruhr Economic Papers 0381, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  8. Harold E. Cuffe & William T. Harbaugh & Jason M. Lindo & Giancarlo Musto & Glenn R. Waddell, 2011. "Evidence on the Efficacy of School-Based Incentives for Healthy Living," Working Papers halshs-00654850, HAL.
  9. Elisabeth Gsottbauer & Jeroen Bergh, 2011. "Environmental Policy Theory Given Bounded Rationality and Other-regarding Preferences," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 49(2), pages 263-304, June.
  10. Burger, Nicholas & Charness, Gary & Lynham, John, 2011. "Field and online experiments on self-control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 393-404, March.
  11. Joachim Fuenfgelt & Stefan Baumgaertner, 2012. "Regulation of morally responsible agents with motivation crowding," Working Paper Series in Economics 241, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  12. Cid, Alejandro & Cabrera, José María, 2012. "Joint Liability vs. Individual Incentives in the Classroom. Lessons from a Field Experiment with Undergraduate Students," MPRA Paper 39907, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Cawley, John & Price, Joshua A., 2013. "A case study of a workplace wellness program that offers financial incentives for weight loss," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 794-803.
  14. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri & Kuhn, Michael A., 2013. "Experimental methods: Extra-laboratory experiments-extending the reach of experimental economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 93-100.
  15. Charness, Gary & Grieco, Daniela, 2013. "Individual Creativity, Ex-ante Goals and Financial Incentives," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt4mr6p1d5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  16. S. Nageeb Ali, 2009. "Learning Self-Control," Levine's Working Paper Archive 814577000000000384, David K. Levine.
  17. Jean-Denis Garon & Alix Masse & Pierre-Carl Michaud, 2013. "Health Club Attendance, Expectations and Self-Control," Cahiers de recherche 1317, CIRPEE.
  18. Allcott, Hunt & Rogers, Todd, 2012. "How Long Do Treatment Effects Last? Persistence and Durability of a Descriptive Norms Intervention's Effect on Energy Conservation," Working Paper Series rwp12-045, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  19. Babcock, Philip & Bedard, Kelly & Charness, Gary & Hartman, John & Royer, Heather, 2012. "Letting Down the Team? Social Effects of Team Incentives," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt93n646db, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.

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