Following Through on Good Intentions: The Power of Planning Prompts

24 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2012 Last revised: 19 Jun 2012

See all articles by Katherine L. Milkman

Katherine L. Milkman

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

John Beshears

Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

James J. Choi

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

David Laibson

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Brigitte C. Madrian

Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 29, 2012

Abstract

We study whether prompts to form and recall a plan can increase individuals’ responsiveness to reminders to make and attend beneficial appointments. At four companies, all employees due for a colonoscopy were randomly assigned to receive either a control mailing or a treatment mailing. The mailings were identical except that the control mailing included a blank sticky note while the treatment mailing included a sticky note that prompted the recipient to write down the appointment date for a colonoscopy and the name of the doctor who would conduct the procedure. During the seven-month follow-up period, 7.2% of treatment employees received a colonoscopy compared to 6.2% of control employees, a statistically significant difference that is roughly equal to the variation in compliance associated with a 10 percent increase in the fraction of the procedure’s cost covered by insurance. The treatment effect was largest for demographic groups judged to be at the highest risk of failing to receive a colonoscopy due to forgetfulness.

Keywords: behavioral economics, implementation intentions, health, colonoscopy, planning

JEL Classification: DO3, D01, I10

Suggested Citation

Milkman, Katherine L. and Beshears, John and Choi, James J. and Laibson, David I. and Madrian, Brigitte C., Following Through on Good Intentions: The Power of Planning Prompts (March 29, 2012). HKS Working Paper No. 12-024. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2031231 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2031231

Katherine L. Milkman (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

John Beshears

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

James J. Choi

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

David I. Laibson

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Room M-14
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-3402 (Phone)
617-495-8570 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Brigitte C. Madrian

Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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