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Like ripples on a pond: Behavioral spillovers and their implications for research and policy

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  • Dolan, Paul
  • Galizzi, Matteo M.

Abstract

No behavior sits in a vacuum, and one behavior can greatly affect what happens next. We propose a conceptual frame within which a broad range of behavioral spillovers can be accounted for when applying behavioral science to policy challenges. We consider behaviors which take place sequentially and are linked, at a conscious or unconscious level, by some underlying motive. The first behavior leads to another behavior which can either work in the same direction as the first (promoting spillover), or push back against it (permitting or purging spillover). Looking through this conceptual lens at the existing evidence, we find pervasive evidence for all kinds of spillover effects across a variety of fields and domains. As a result, behavioral scientists, especially those seeking to inform policy, should try to capture all the ripples from one behavior to the next when a pebble of intervention is thrown in the pond, and not just at the immediate behavioral splash it makes.

Suggested Citation

  • Dolan, Paul & Galizzi, Matteo M., 2015. "Like ripples on a pond: Behavioral spillovers and their implications for research and policy," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 1-16.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:47:y:2015:i:c:p:1-16
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2014.12.003
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Behavioral spillovers; Policy-making; Nudges; Crowding in/out;

    JEL classification:

    • C18 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Methodolical Issues: General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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