Changing Preferences through Experimental Games: Evidence from Sanitation and Hygiene in Tamil Nadu

39 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2016

See all articles by Yaniv Stopnitzky

Yaniv Stopnitzky

University of San Francisco - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 18, 2016

Abstract

Much policy interest on sanitation and hygiene promotion focuses on changing behavior and increasing demand for these goods. Yet the effectiveness of large-scale interventions has been mixed, in large part because of the difficulty of changing attitudes on deeply held behaviors. I test whether an experiential learning exercise, which is structured around an experimental game, can be used to shift preferences around sanitation and hygiene. I design and adapt a minimum coordination game to the sanitation and hygiene setting by linking game choices to real-world investment decisions and payoffs in terms of health and status. Within 20 villages in rural Tamil Nadu, I randomly assign individuals to three groups: a game where communication between rounds is allowed, another where communication is prohibited, and a control group that only completes a survey. Comparing survey responses across treatment arms, I find that the game improved stated preferences toward sanitation and hygiene. This effect was larger when communication was allowed and men responded on average stronger than women across both versions of the game. These results suggest that experimental games can be a valuable tool not only for the study of decision-making but for improving knowledge and pro-sanitation preferences.

Keywords: Hygiene, Sanitation, Health Promotion, Behavior Change, Experimental Games, India

JEL Classification: Q56, I12, I15, O13

Suggested Citation

Stopnitzky, Yaniv, Changing Preferences through Experimental Games: Evidence from Sanitation and Hygiene in Tamil Nadu (September 18, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2840523 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2840523

Yaniv Stopnitzky (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco - Department of Economics ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117-1080
United States

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