When a Nudge Backfires:Using Observation with Social and Economic Incentives to Promote Pro-Social Behavior
Gary Bolton (),
Eugen Dimant () and
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Gary Bolton: University of Texas at Dallas
No 2019-03, Discussion Papers from The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham
Both theory and recent empirical evidence on nudging suggest that observability of behavior acts as an instrument for promoting (discouraging) pro-social (anti-social) behavior. Our study questions the universality of these claims. We employ a novel four-party setup to disentangle the roles that the relevant observational mechanisms play in affecting pro-/antisocial behavior. We systematically vary the observability of one's actions by others as well as the (non-)monetary relationship between observer and observee. Observability involving economic incentives crowds-out anti-social behavior in favor of more pro-social behavior. Surprisingly, observation without economic consequences fails to achieve any aggregate pro-social effect, and if anything it backfires. In additional experiments we confirm that this backfiring effect is driven by inequity concerns. We propose and successfully test a solution: increasing the focus on the underlying social norms.
Keywords: Anti-Social Behavior; Experiment; Nudge; Pro-Social Behavior; Reputation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-evo and nep-exp
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Working Paper: When a Nudge Backfires. Using Observation with Social and Economic Incentives to Promote Pro-Social Behavior (2018)
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:not:notcdx:2019-03
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