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When Incentives Backfire: Spillover Effects in Food Choice

Author

Listed:
  • Angelucci, Manuela

    () (University of Texas at Austin)

  • Prina, Silvia

    () (Case Western Reserve University)

  • Royer, Heather

    () (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Samek, Anya

    () (University of Southern California)

Abstract

How do peers influence the impact of incentives? Despite much work on incentives, little is known about the spillover effects of incentives. We investigate two mechanisms by which these effects can occur: through peers' actions and peers' incentives. In a field experiment on snack choice (grapes versus cookies), we randomize who receives incentives, the fraction of peers incentivized, and whether or not it can be observed that peers' choices are incentivized among over 1,500 children in the school lunchroom. Incentives increase the likelihood of initially choosing grapes. However, peer spillover effects can be large enough to undo these positive effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Angelucci, Manuela & Prina, Silvia & Royer, Heather & Samek, Anya, 2015. "When Incentives Backfire: Spillover Effects in Food Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 9288, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9288
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    Keywords

    food choice; incentives; spillovers; field experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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