Are the Effects of Informational Interventions Driven by Salience?

93 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2020

See all articles by Eric Bettinger

Eric Bettinger

Stanford University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nina Cunha

Stanford University

Guilherme Lichand

University of Zurich

Ricardo Madeira

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 24, 2020

Abstract

Informational interventions have been shown to significantly change behavior across a variety of settings. Is that because they lead subjects to merely update beliefs in the right direction? Or, alternatively, is it to a large extent because they increase the salience of the decision they target, affecting behavior even in the absence of inputs for belief updating? We study this question in the context of an informational intervention with school parents in Brazil. We randomly assign parents to either an information group, who receives text messages with weekly data on their child’s attendance and school effort, or a salience group, who receives messages that try to redirect their attention without child-specific information. While information has large impacts on attendance, test scores and grade promotion relative to the control group, outcomes in the salience group improve by at least as much, and to a greater extent among students with lower attendance at baseline. Our results suggest that alternative interventions that manipulate attention can generate larger impacts at lower costs, and have implications for the design of informational interventions across a range of domains.

Keywords: Information, Salience, Inattention

JEL Classification: C93, D83, D91, I25, I31

Suggested Citation

Bettinger, Eric and Cunha, Nina and Lichand, Guilherme and Madeira, Ricardo, Are the Effects of Informational Interventions Driven by Salience? (May 24, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3644124 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3644124

Eric Bettinger

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nina Cunha

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Guilherme Lichand (Contact Author)

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland

Ricardo Madeira

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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