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Using Non-Pecuniary Strategies to Influence Behavior: Evidence from a Large Scale Field Experiment

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  • Paul J. Ferraro
  • Michael K. Price

Abstract

Policymakers are increasingly using norm-based messages to influence individual decision-making. We partner with a metropolitan water utility to implement a natural field experiment examining the effect of such messages on residential water demand. The data, drawn from more than 100,000 households, indicate that social comparison messages had a greater influence on behavior than simple pro-social messages or technical information alone. Moreover, our data suggest social comparison messages are most effective among households identified as the least price sensitive: high-users. Yet the effectiveness of such messages wanes over time. Our results thus highlight important complementarities between pecuniary and non-pecuniary strategies.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul J. Ferraro & Michael K. Price, 2011. "Using Non-Pecuniary Strategies to Influence Behavior: Evidence from a Large Scale Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 17189, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17189
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation

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