When Do People Prefer Carrots to Sticks? A Robust 'Matching Effect' in Policy Evaluation

41 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2015

See all articles by Ellen Evers

Ellen Evers

UC Berkeley, Haas

Yoel Inbar

University of Toronto

Irene Blanken

Tilburg University

Linda Oosterwijk

Tilburg University

Date Written: June 1, 2015

Abstract

We find a “matching effect” in policy evaluations. For behaviors seen as positive but voluntary (such as organ donation) people prefer policies that are framed as advantaging those who act positively rather than disadvantaging those who fail to do so. Conversely, for behaviors seen as positive and obligatory, people prefer policies that are framed as disadvantaging those who fail to fulfill obligations rather than advantaging those who do so. We find that these differences in policy evaluations occur even when policy outcomes are identical, i.e., when the only difference between the policies is how they are framed. These differences emerge both for evaluations of hypothetical policies, as well as when implementation of the policy directly affects the evaluator. Furthermore, differences in evaluations are not the result of misunderstanding of — or lack of deliberation about — policy outcomes. Rather, the matching effect appears to follow from lay beliefs about when punishment is and is not appropriate.

Keywords: Policies, framing, punishing & rewarding, justice, moral decision making

Suggested Citation

Evers, Ellen and Inbar, Yoel and Blanken, Irene and Oosterwijk, Linda, When Do People Prefer Carrots to Sticks? A Robust 'Matching Effect' in Policy Evaluation (June 1, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2613192 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2613192

Ellen Evers (Contact Author)

UC Berkeley, Haas ( email )

Haas School of Business
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Yoel Inbar

University of Toronto ( email )

Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8
Canada

Irene Blanken

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC 5000 LE
Netherlands

Linda Oosterwijk

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC 5000 LE
Netherlands

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