IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp10874.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Can Financial Incentives Help People Trying to Establish New Habits? Experimental Evidence with New Gym Members

Author

Listed:
  • Carrera, Mariana

    () (Case Western Reserve University)

  • Royer, Heather

    () (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Stehr, Mark

    () (Drexel University)

  • Syndor, Justin

    () (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Abstract

We conducted a randomized controlled trial testing the effect of modest incentives to attend the gym among new members of a fitness facility, a population that is already engaged in trying to change a health behavior. Our experiment randomized 836 new members of a private gym into a control group, receiving a $30 payment unconditionally, or one of 3 incentive groups, receiving a payment if they attended the gym at least 9 times over their first 6 weeks as members. The incentives were a $30 payment, a $60 payment, and an item costing $30 that leveraged the endowment effect. These incentives had only moderate impacts on attendance during members' first 6 weeks and no effect on their subsequent visit trajectories. We document substantial overconfidence among new members about their likely visit rates and discuss how overconfidence may undermine the effectiveness of a modest incentive program.

Suggested Citation

  • Carrera, Mariana & Royer, Heather & Stehr, Mark & Syndor, Justin, 2017. "Can Financial Incentives Help People Trying to Establish New Habits? Experimental Evidence with New Gym Members," IZA Discussion Papers 10874, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10874
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp10874.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Rohde, Kirsten I.M. & Verbeke, Willem, 2017. "We like to see you in the gym—A field experiment on financial incentives for short and long term gym attendance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 388-407.
    2. Heather Royer & Mark Stehr & Justin Sydnor, 2015. "Incentives, Commitments, and Habit Formation in Exercise: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Workers at a Fortune-500 Company," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 51-84, July.
    3. Hengchen Dai & Katherine L. Milkman & Jason Riis, 2014. "The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(10), pages 2563-2582, October.
    4. Mariana Carrera & Heather Royer & Mark F. Stehr & Justin R. Sydnor, 2017. "The Structure of Health Incentives: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 23188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Cawley, John & Price, Joshua A., 2013. "A case study of a workplace wellness program that offers financial incentives for weight loss," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 794-803.
    6. Heather Royer & Mark F. Stehr & Justin R. Sydnor, 2012. "Incentives, Commitments and Habit Formation in Exercise: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Workers at a Fortune-500 Company," NBER Working Papers 18580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-1348, December.
    8. Philip S. Babcock & John L. Hartman, 2010. "Networks and Workouts: Treatment Size and Status Specific Peer Effects in a Randomized Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 16581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    endowment effect; incentives; exercise; overconfidence;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:iza:izadps:dp10874. 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: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: http://www.iza.org .

    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 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.

    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.