Motivating the Adoption of New Community-Minded Behaviors: An Empirical Test in Nigeria

Forthcoming, Science Advances

60 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2017 Last revised: 13 Mar 2019

See all articles by Graeme Blair

Graeme Blair

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science

Rebecca Littman

Yale University - Department of Psychology

Elizabeth Levy Paluck

Princeton University Department of Psychology

Date Written: September 6, 2017

Abstract

Social scientists have long sought to explain why people donate resources for the good of a community. Less attention has been paid to the difficult task of motivating the first adopters of these important behaviors. In a field experiment in Nigeria, we tested two campaigns that encouraged people to try reporting corruption by text message. Psychological theories about how to shift perceived norms and how to reduce barriers to action drove the design of each campaign. The first, a film featuring actors reporting corruption and the second, a mass text message reducing the effort required to report, caused a total of 1,181 people in 106 communities to text, including 241 people who sent concrete corruption reports. Psychological theories of social norms and behavior change can illuminate the early stages of the evolution of cooperation and collective action, when adoption is still relatively rare.

Keywords: Social Norms, Nudge, Collective Action, Psychology, Field Experiment

Suggested Citation

Blair, Graeme and Littman, Rebecca and Paluck, Elizabeth Levy, Motivating the Adoption of New Community-Minded Behaviors: An Empirical Test in Nigeria (September 6, 2017). Forthcoming, Science Advances. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3033133 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3033133

Graeme Blair (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science ( email )

405 Hilgard Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1472
United States

Rebecca Littman

Yale University - Department of Psychology ( email )

P.O. Box 208205
New Haven, CT 06520-8205
United States

Elizabeth Levy Paluck

Princeton University Department of Psychology ( email )

Peretsman Scully Hall
Department of Psychology
Princeton, NJ 08540
United States
6092589730 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.betsylevypaluck.com/

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