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

Listed author(s):
  • Dolan, Paul
  • Galizzi, Matteo M.

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.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/60804/
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 60804.

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Date of creation: Apr 2015
Publication status: Published in Journal of Economic Psychology, April, 2015, 47, pp. 1-16. ISSN: 0167-4870
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:60804
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