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Soft Commitments, Reminders, and Academic Performance

Author

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  • Oliver Himmler
  • Robert Jäckle
  • Philipp Weinschenk

Abstract

We provide first evidence that a soft commitment device enhances progress in education and, more generally, improves the completion of complex tasks—such as passing exams. In our field experiment, students can sign a nonbinding agreement and commit to staying on track for graduation. We find that those who were offered the soft commitment device are more likely to sign up for, take part in, and pass exams. A pure reminder treatment does not change behavior, which suggests that the effects are not driven by increased salience. We also show that procrastinators benefit most from the commitment device.

Suggested Citation

  • Oliver Himmler & Robert Jäckle & Philipp Weinschenk, 2019. "Soft Commitments, Reminders, and Academic Performance," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 114-142, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:11:y:2019:i:2:p:114-42
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.20170288
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Wolter, Stefan C. & Zumbühl, Maria, 2017. "The Native-Migrant Gap in the Progression into and through Upper-Secondary Education," IZA Discussion Papers 11217, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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