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Do the effects of social nudges persist? Theory and evidence from 38 natural field experiments

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  • Alec Brandon
  • Paul Ferraro
  • John List
  • Robert Metcalfe
  • Michael Price
  • Florian Rundhammer

Abstract

This study examines the mechanisms underlying long-run reductions in energy consumption caused by a widely studied social nudge. Our investigation considers two channels: physical capital in the home and habit formation in the household. Using data from 38 natural field experiments, we isolate the role of physical capital by comparing treatment and control homes after the original household moves, which ends treatment. We find 35 to 55 percent of the reductions persist once treatment ends and show this is consonant with the physical capital channel. Methodologically, our findings have important implications for the design and assessment of behavioral interventions.

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  • Alec Brandon & Paul Ferraro & John List & Robert Metcalfe & Michael Price & Florian Rundhammer, 2017. "Do the effects of social nudges persist? Theory and evidence from 38 natural field experiments," Natural Field Experiments 00598, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00598
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    Cited by:

    1. Augurzky, Boris & Bauer, Thomas K. & Reichert, Arndt R. & Schmidt, Christoph M. & Tauchmann, Harald, 2018. "Habit formation, obesity, and cash rewards," Ruhr Economic Papers 750, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    2. Gary Bolton & Eugen Dimant & Ulrich Schmidt, 2018. "When a Nudge Backfires. Using Observation with Social and Economic Incentives to Promote Pro-Social Behavior," PPE Working Papers 0017, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    3. repec:eee:pubeco:v:172:y:2019:i:c:p:151-173 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Nogueira Meirelles De Souza, Mateus & Myers, Erica, 2018. "Social Norms and Personalized Messaging to Promote Energy Conservation: evidence from a university residence hall," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274130, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    5. 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.
    6. repec:eee:jeeman:v:90:y:2018:i:c:p:317-341 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Andor, Mark Andreas & Gerster, Andreas & Peters, Jörg & Schmidt, Christoph M., 2017. "Social norms and energy conservation beyond the US," Ruhr Economic Papers 714, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    8. Kurz, Verena, 2017. "Nudging to reduce meat consumption: Immediate and persistent effects of an intervention at a university restaurant," Working Papers in Economics 712, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    9. Daniel A. Brent & Corey Lott & Michael Taylor & Joseph Cook & Kim Rollins & Shawn Stoddard, 2017. "Are Normative Appeals Moral Taxes? Evidence from a Field Experiment on Water Conservation," Departmental Working Papers 2017-07, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    10. Robert Dur & Dimitry Fleming & Marten van Garderen & Max van Lent, 2019. "A Social Norm Nudge to Save More: A Field Experiment at a Retail Bank," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-063/I, Tinbergen Institute.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy

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