Nudges in Exercise Commitment Contracts: A Randomized Trial

32 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2015

See all articles by Jay Bhattacharya

Jay Bhattacharya

Stanford University - Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alan M. Garber

Stanford University - Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research; Government of the United States of America - Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Medical Center; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert

Stanford University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2015

Abstract

We consider the welfare consequences of nudges and other behavioral economic devices to encourage exercise habit formation. We analyze a randomized trial of nudged exercise commitment contracts in the context of a time-inconsistent intertemporal utility maximization model of the demand for exercise. The trial follows more than 4,000 people seeking to make exercise commitments. Each person was randomly nudged towards making longer (20 weeks) or shorter (8 weeks) exercise commitment contracts. Our empirical analysis shows that people who are interested in exercise commitment contracts choose longer contracts when nudged to do so, and are then more likely to meet their pre-stated exercise goals. People are also more likely to enroll in a subsequent commitment contract after the original expires if they receive a nudge for a longer duration initial contract. Our theoretical analysis of the welfare implications of these effects shows conditions under which nudges can reduce utility even when they succeed in the goal of promoting habitual exercise.

Suggested Citation

Bhattacharya, Jayanta and Garber, Alan M. and Goldhaber-Fiebert, Jeremy D., Nudges in Exercise Commitment Contracts: A Randomized Trial (July 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21406. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2636165

Jayanta Bhattacharya (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research ( email )

Center for Health Policy
179 Encina Commons
Stanford, CA 94305-6019
United States
650-736-0404 (Phone)
650-723-1919 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alan M. Garber

Stanford University - Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research ( email )

179 Encina Commons
Stanford, CA 94305-6019
United States
650-723-0920 (Phone)
650-724-5182 (Fax)

Government of the United States of America - Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Palo Alto, CA 94304
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jeremy D. Goldhaber-Fiebert

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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