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

36 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2011

See all articles by Paul J. Ferraro

Paul J. Ferraro

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School; Georgia State University - Department of Economics

Michael K. Price

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Date Written: July 2011

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

Ferraro, Paul J. and Price, Michael K., Using Non-Pecuniary Strategies to Influence Behavior: Evidence from a Large Scale Field Experiment (July 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17189. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1882158

Paul J. Ferraro (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

Michael K. Price

University of Tennessee, Knoxville ( email )

The Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States

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