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Using Non-Pecuniary Strategies to Influence Behavior: Evidence from a Large Scale Field Experiment

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  • Paul J. Ferraro
  • Michael K. Price

Abstract

Policymakers are increasingly using norm-based messages to influence individual decision-making. We partner with a metropolitan water utility to implement a natural field experiment examining the effect of such messages on residential water demand. The data, drawn from more than 100,000 households, indicate that social comparison messages had a greater influence on behavior than simple pro-social messages or technical information alone. Moreover, our data suggest social comparison messages are most effective among households identified as the least price sensitive: high-users. Yet the effectiveness of such messages wanes over time. Our results thus highlight important complementarities between pecuniary and non-pecuniary strategies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17189.

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Date of creation: Jul 2011
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Publication status: published as Paul J. Ferraro & Michael K. Price, 2013. "Using Nonpecuniary Strategies to Influence Behavior: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 64-73, March.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17189

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References

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  1. Uri Gneezy & John List, 2006. "Putting behavioral economics to work: Testing for gift exchange in labor markets using field experiments," Natural Field Experiments 00259, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Noah J. Goldstein & Robert B. Cialdini & Vladas Griskevicius, 2008. "A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 472-482, 03.
  4. Rachel Croson & Jen Shang, 2008. "The impact of downward social information on contribution decisions," Natural Field Experiments 00322, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2013. "Energy Conservation “Nudges” And Environmentalist Ideology: Evidence From A Randomized Residential Electricity Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 680-702, 06.
  6. Erin T. Mansur & Sheila M. Olmstead, 2007. "The Value of Scarce Water: Measuring the Inefficiency of Municipal Regulations," NBER Working Papers 13513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hutton, R Bruce, et al, 1986. " Effects of Cost-Related Feedback on Consumer Knowledge and Consumption Behavior: A Field Experimental Approach," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 327-36, December.
  8. Ian Ayres & Sophie Raseman & Alice Shih, 2009. "Evidence from Two Large Field Experiments that Peer Comparison Feedback Can Reduce Residential Energy Usage," NBER Working Papers 15386, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Olmstead, Sheila M. & Michael Hanemann, W. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Water demand under alternative price structures," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 181-198, September.
  10. Martin, Richard & Randal, John, 2008. "How is donation behaviour affected by the donations of others?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 228-238, July.
  11. Kolm,Serge-Christophe, 2009. "Reciprocity," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521123204, October.
  12. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  13. Todd Sandler & Daniel G. Arce M., 2003. "Pure Public Goods versus Commons: Benefit-Cost Duality," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(3), pages 355-368.
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Cited by:
  1. Paul Dolan & Robert Metcalfe, 2013. "Neighbors, Knowledge, and Nuggets: Two Natural Field Experiments on the Role of Incentives on Energy Conservation," CEP Discussion Papers dp1222, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Tiefenbeck, Verena & Staake, Thorsten & Roth, Kurt & Sachs, Olga, 2013. "For better or for worse? Empirical evidence of moral licensing in a behavioral energy conservation campaign," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 160-171.
  3. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Social norms and energy conservation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1082-1095.
  4. Delmas, Magali A. & Lessem, Neil, 2014. "Saving power to conserve your reputation? The effectiveness of private versus public information," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 353-370.
  5. Paul J. Ferraro & Juan Jose Miranda & Michael K. Price, 2011. "The Persistence of Treatment Effects with Norm-Based Policy Instruments: Evidence from a Randomized Environmental Policy Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 318-22, May.
  6. Bucciol, Alessandro & Montinari, Natalia & Piovesan, Marco, 2014. "It Wasn't Me! Visibility and Free Riding in Waste Sorting," Working Papers 2014:17, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  7. Kim, S, 1977. "Instability Of Primary Exports, Income Stabilisation Policies And Welf Are," Working Papers 11, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
  8. Ferraro, Paul J. & Miranda, Juan José, 2013. "Heterogeneous treatment effects and mechanisms in information-based environmental policies: Evidence from a large-scale field experiment," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 356-379.
  9. John A. List & Michael K. Price, 2013. "Using Field Experiments in Environmental and Resource Economics," NBER Working Papers 19289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Gioia de Melo Sella, 2012. "The perils of peer punishment: Evidence from a common pool resource framed field experiment," Working Papers 201238, Latin American and Caribbean Environmental Economics Program, revised 2012.
  11. Lange, Ian & Moro, Mirko & Rahman, Mohammad, 2014. "Policy Labels and Investment Decision-making," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2014-01, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.

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