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Can interventions affect commitment demand? A field experiment on food choice

Sally Sadoff and Anya Samek

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2019, vol. 158, issue C, 90-109

Abstract: Despite a growing literature examining the use of commitment devices to address self-control problems, little is known about the mechanisms driving commitment demand. In a field experiment among participants of a food delivery program, we test the impact of two interventions on food choice and commitment demand: 1) providing information and 2) additionally providing experience with a commitment device that restricts participants to choosing healthy foods. We find that both interventions significantly increase short-term healthy food choices compared to a no intervention control group. A month after we implement the interventions, we offer all participants the opportunity to take up the commitment device restricting themselves to healthy foods. Both interventions double Post-Treatment commitment demand, with larger and more robust effects in the experience treatment. To address concerns about the welfare impacts of our interventions, we examine participants’ satisfaction with their food selections, and find no evidence that restricting choice decreases participants’ welfare. Our work suggests that a substantial fraction of people are naive about the benefits of commitment devices, and there is scope for policy interventions to increase commitment demand.

Keywords: Commitment demand; Field experiment; Food choice (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D12 D81 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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