Nudge in the Time of Coronavirus: The Compliance to Behavioural Messages during Crisis
48 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2020 Last revised: 21 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 20, 2021
Successful responses to the coronavirus pandemic require those without COVID-19 and asymptomatic individuals to comply with a range of government guidelines. As nudges have been widely found to be effective at stimulating pro-social behaviours, how good are they for the COVID-policy toolkit? In particular, is a reflective device or nudge plus, as an addition to the classic nudge, able to deal with scale of the problem? To test for the impact of nudges and nudge plus, we implemented an online experiment with 1,481 people during period of the first national lockdown in the UK in April/May 2020. We show that social norms and portrayal of the victim do not work on their own in increasing intentions to comply with the guidelines, but when the victim is combined with the more reflective task of writing to a relative there is an impact. After two weeks, however, these intentions do not persist. The implication is that there still much work to do in designing nudges in the context of COVID-19 and other public health pandemics, yet reflection as a behavioural device can encourage individuals to think more responsibly in a world-wide pandemic.
Keywords: Nudge, Nudge Plus, COVID-19, Social Norms, Compliance
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