IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

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

  • Paul J. Ferraro
  • Michael K. Price

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17189.

in new window

Date of creation: Jul 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Paul J. Ferraro & Michael K. Price, 2013. "Using Nonpecuniary Strategies to Influence Behavior: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 64-73, March.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17189
Note: EEE PE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Sheila Olmstead & W. Michael Hanemann & Robert N. Stavins, 2007. "Water Demand Under Alternative Price Structures," NBER Working Papers 13573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  4. Erin T. Mansur & Sheila M. Olmstead, 2007. "The Value of Scarce Water: Measuring the Inefficiency of Municipal Regulations," NBER Working Papers 13513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Noah J. Goldstein & Robert B. Cialdini & Vladas Griskevicius, 2008. "A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 472-482, 03.
  6. Todd Sandler & Daniel G. Arce M., 2003. "Pure Public Goods versus Commons: Benefit-Cost Duality," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(3), pages 355-368.
  7. Ian Ayres & Sophie Raseman & Alice Shih, 2009. "Evidence from Two Large Field Experiments that Peer Comparison Feedback Can Reduce Residential Energy Usage," NBER Working Papers 15386, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Martin, Richard & Randal, John, 2008. "How is donation behaviour affected by the donations of others?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 228-238, July.
  9. Jen Shang & Rachel Croson, 2008. "The impact of downward social information on contribution decisions," Natural Field Experiments 00322, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Hutton, R Bruce, et al, 1986. " Effects of Cost-Related Feedback on Consumer Knowledge and Consumption Behavior: A Field Experimental Approach," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 327-36, December.
  11. Uri Gneezy & John A List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1365-1384, 09.
  12. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2013. "Energy Conservation “Nudges” And Environmentalist Ideology: Evidence From A Randomized Residential Electricity Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 680-702, 06.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17189. 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: ()

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.