Norms in Behavioral Interventions: Peer or Anchoring Effects?

21 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2018 Last revised: 13 Jan 2020

See all articles by Pieter Verhallen

Pieter Verhallen

Maastricht University - Department of Marketing

Elisabeth Brüggen

Maastricht University

Thomas Post

Maastricht University - School of Business and Economics - Department of Finance; Netspar

Gaby Odekerken-Schröder

Maastricht University

Date Written: December 11, 2019

Abstract

Descriptive information of peers’ behavior is used to nudge individuals to behave according to a norm. Yet, since such descriptive information is often a quantitative metric, it is possible that the behavioral change is due to anchoring. We disentangle peer and anchoring effects, and test boundary conditions in two experimental studies with a retirement saving contribution rate scenario. In study 1, we find a strong similarity between a peer and anchoring effect. In follow-up study 2, no anchoring effect is found when more extreme values (peer norms or anchors more distant from the control group behavior) are used, whereas the peer effect remains present. Furthermore, we find evidence that the informational component – as opposed to the normative component – of peer information plays a stronger role for peer effects.

Keywords: Social Norms, Peer Effects, Heuristics, Anchoring, Financial Decision-making, Consumer Behavior, Financial Services

JEL Classification: D14, D91

Suggested Citation

Verhallen, Pieter and Brüggen, Elisabeth and Post, Thomas and Odekerken-Schröder, Gaby, Norms in Behavioral Interventions: Peer or Anchoring Effects? (December 11, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3098028 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3098028

Pieter Verhallen (Contact Author)

Maastricht University - Department of Marketing ( email )

Maastricht NL, 6200 MD
Netherlands

Elisabeth Brüggen

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200MD
Netherlands

Thomas Post

Maastricht University - School of Business and Economics - Department of Finance ( email )

Tongersestraat 53
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands
+31 43 38 83899 (Phone)
+31 43 38 84875 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.thomas-post.com

Netspar ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.netspar.nl

Gaby Odekerken-Schröder

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200MD
Netherlands

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