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

Author

Listed:
  • Paul J. Ferraro

    (Georgia State University)

  • Michael K. Price

    (Georgia State University and NBER)

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 to examine 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 prosocial messages or technical information alone. Moreover, our data suggest that 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 nonpecuniary strategies. © 2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • 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:tpr:restat:v:95:y:2013:i:1:p:64-73
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    social norms; natural field experiment; water demand;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities
    • Q21 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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