Keep it Simple: A Field Experiment on Information Sharing Among Strangers

53 Pages Posted: 19 May 2022 Last revised: 29 Oct 2022

See all articles by Catia Batista

Catia Batista

Nova School of Business and Economics; CReAM; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; NOVAFRICA

Marcel Fafchamps

Stanford University

Pedro C. Vicente

Nova School of Business and Economics

Abstract

SMS information campaigns are increasingly used for policy. We conduct a field experiment to study information sharing through mobile phone messages. Subjects are rural households in Mozambique who have access to mobile money. In the baseline intervention, subjects receive an SMS containing simple instructions on how to redeem a voucher for mobile money. They can share this non-rival information with other exogenously assigned subjects unknown to them. We find that few participants redeem the voucher. They nonetheless share it with others and many share information about the voucher they do not use themselves. Information is shared more when communication is anonymous and we find no evidence of more sharing with subjects who have similar characteristics. We introduce treatments to increase the cost of sending a message, shame those who do not send the voucher to others, or allow subjects to appropriate the value of information. All these treatments decrease information sharing. To encourage information diffusion among strangers, the best is to 'keep it simple'.

Keywords: empathy, anonymity, mobile money, nudging, SMS information campaign, shared identity

JEL Classification: D83, D64, O33

Suggested Citation

Batista, Catia and Fafchamps, Marcel and Vicente, Pedro C., Keep it Simple: A Field Experiment on Information Sharing Among Strangers. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14780, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4114317

Catia Batista (Contact Author)

Nova School of Business and Economics ( email )

Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Rua da Holanda, 1
Carcavelos, 2775-405
Portugal

CReAM

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London, WC1H 0AX
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/

NOVAFRICA ( email )

Nova School of Business and Economics
Rua da Holanda, 1
Carcavelos, 2775-405
Portugal

HOME PAGE: http://www.novafrica.org

Marcel Fafchamps

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Pedro C. Vicente

Nova School of Business and Economics ( email )

Campus de Carcavelos
Rua da Holanda, 1
Carcavelos, 2775-405
Portugal

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