When a Nudge Backfires. Using Observation with Social and Economic Incentives to Promote Pro-Social Behavior
Eugen Dimant () and
No 17, PPE Working Papers from Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania
Both theory and recent empirical evidence on nudging suggests 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 three observational mechanisms play in mediating 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, social observation without economic incentives fails to achieve any aggregate pro-social effect, and if anything it backfires. Additional experiments confirm that observability without additional monetary incentives can indeed backfire. However, they also show that the effect of observability on pro-social behavior is increased when social norms are made salient.
Keywords: Anti-Social Behavior; Experiment; Nudge; Pro-Social Behavior; Reputation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D64 D9 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp and nep-soc
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Working Paper: When a Nudge Backfires:Using Observation with Social and Economic Incentives to Promote Pro-Social Behavior (2019)
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:ppc:wpaper:0017
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