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Following through on Good Intentions: The Power of Planning Prompts

  • Milkman, Katherine L.

    (University of PA)

  • Beshears, John

    (Stanford University)

  • Choi, James J.

    (Yale University)

  • Laibson, David

    (Harvard University)

  • Madrian, Brigitte C.

    (Harvard University)

We study whether prompts to form and recall a plan can increase individuals' responsiveness to reminders to make and attend beneficial appointments. At four companies, all employees due for a colonoscopy were randomly assigned to receive either a control mailing or a treatment mailing. The mailings were identical except that the control mailing included a blank sticky note while the treatment mailing included a sticky note that prompted the recipient to write down the appointment date for a colonoscopy and the name of the doctor who would conduct the procedure. During the seven-month follow-up period, 7.2% of treatment employees received a colonoscopy compared to 6.2% of control employees, a statistically significant difference that is roughly equal to the variation in compliance associated with a 10 percent increase in the fraction of the procedure's cost covered by insurance. The treatment effect was largest for demographic groups judged to be at the highest risk of failing to receive a colonoscopy due to forgetfulness.

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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp12-024.

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Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp12-024
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  1. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Bamberg, Sebastian, 2002. "Implementation intention versus monetary incentive comparing the effects of interventions to promote the purchase of organically produced food," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 573-587, October.
  3. Milkman, Katherine L. & Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David I. & Madrian, Brigitte, 2011. "Using Implementation Intentions Prompts to Enhance Influenza Vaccination Rates," Scholarly Articles 8057976, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
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