IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/tpr/restat/v95y2013i1p64-73.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

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
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/REST_a_00344
    File Function: link to full text PDF
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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, June.
    3. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
    4. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, 2004. "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior: Testing "Conditional Cooperation" in a Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1717-1722, December.
    5. Uri Gneezy & John A List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1365-1384, September.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Mansur, Erin T. & Olmstead, Sheila M., 2012. "The value of scarce water: Measuring the inefficiency of municipal regulations," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 332-346.
    9. Rachel Croson & Jen Shang, 2008. "The impact of downward social information on contribution decisions," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(3), pages 221-233, September.
    10. Jen Shang & Rachel Croson, 2009. "A Field Experiment in Charitable Contribution: The Impact of Social Information on the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1422-1439, October.
    11. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(3), pages 472-482, March.
    12. 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.
    13. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(3), pages 327-336, December.
    14. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Dolan, Paul & Metcalfe, Robert, 2013. "Neighbors, knowledge, and nuggets: two natural field experiments on the role of incentives on energy conservation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51563, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Kessler, Judd B. & Low, Corinne & Singhal, Monica, 2021. "Social policy instruments and the compliance environment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 192(C), pages 248-267.
    3. Maliheh Paryavi & Iris Bohnet & Alexandra van Geen, 2019. "Descriptive norms and gender diversity: Reactance from men," Journal of Behavioral Public Administration, Center for Experimental and Behavioral Public Administration, vol. 2(1).
    4. Simon Gächter & Daniele Nosenzo & Martin Sefton, 2012. "The Impact of Social Comparisons on Reciprocity," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(4), pages 1346-1367, December.
    5. John A. List & James J. Murphy & Michael K. Price & Alexander G. James, 2019. "Do Appeals to Donor Benefits Raise More Money than Appeals to Recipient Benefits? Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment with Pick.Click.Give," NBER Working Papers 26559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jan Stoop & Charles N. Noussair & Daan van Soest, 2012. "From the Lab to the Field: Cooperation among Fishermen," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(6), pages 1027-1056.
    7. Levitt, Steven D. & List, John A., 2009. "Field experiments in economics: The past, the present, and the future," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-18, January.
    8. Lucas C. Coffman & Clayton R. Featherstone & Judd B. Kessler, 2017. "Can Social Information Affect What Job You Choose and Keep?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 96-117, January.
    9. Daniel A. Brent & Joseph H. Cook & Skylar Olsen, 2015. "Social Comparisons, Household Water Use, and Participation in Utility Conservation Programs: Evidence from Three Randomized Trials," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(4), pages 597-627.
    10. Anna Lou Abatayo & Bo Jellesmark Thorsen, 2017. "One-shot exogenous interventions increase subsequent coordination in Denmark, Spain and Ghana," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 12(11), pages 1-19, November.
    11. Timo Goeschl & Sara Elisa Kettner & Johannes Lohse & Christiane Schwieren, 2018. "From Social Information to Social Norms: Evidence from Two Experiments on Donation Behaviour," Games, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-25, November.
    12. Benjamin Ho & John Taber & Gregory Poe & Antonio Bento, 2016. "The Effects of Moral Licensing and Moral Cleansing in Contingent Valuation and Laboratory Experiments on the Demand to Reduce Externalities," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 64(2), pages 317-340, June.
    13. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Social norms and energy conservation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1082-1095.
    14. Alpízar, Francisco & Martinsson, Peter, 2010. "Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Tell Me Who to Follow! - Field Experiment Evidence on Voluntary Donations," Working Papers in Economics 452, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    15. Bonan, Jacopo & Battiston, Pietro & Bleck, Jaimie & LeMay-Boucher, Philippe & Pareglio, Stefano & Sarr, Bassirou & Tavoni, Massimo, 2021. "Social interaction and technology adoption: Experimental evidence from improved cookstoves in Mali," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    16. Daniel A. Brent & Corey Lott & Michael Taylor & Joseph Cook & Kimberly Rollins & Shawn Stoddard, 2020. "What Causes Heterogeneous Responses to Social Comparison Messages for Water Conservation?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 77(3), pages 503-537, November.
    17. Eszter Czibor & David Jimenez‐Gomez & John A. List, 2019. "The Dozen Things Experimental Economists Should Do (More of)," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 86(2), pages 371-432, October.
    18. Pinar Yildirim & Yanhao Wei & Christophe Bulte & Joy Lu, 2020. "Social network design for inducing effort," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 381-417, December.
    19. Simon Gächter & Daniele Nosenzo & Martin Sefton, 2013. "Peer Effects In Pro-Social Behavior: Social Norms Or Social Preferences?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 548-573, June.
    20. Axel Ockenfels & Dirk Sliwka & Peter Werner, 2015. "Bonus Payments and Reference Point Violations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(7), pages 1496-1513, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social norms; natural field experiment; water demand;
    All these keywords.

    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

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:95:y:2013:i:1:p:64-73. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://direct.mit.edu/journals .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Ann Olson (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://direct.mit.edu/journals .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.