Correcting Misperceptions About Trends and Norms to Address Weak Collective Action

45 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2023 Last revised: 28 May 2024

See all articles by Hanna Fuhrmann-Riebel

Hanna Fuhrmann-Riebel

German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS)

Ben D'Exelle

University of East Anglia (UEA)

Kristian López Vargas

University of California, Santa Cruz

Sebastian Tonke

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Arjan Verschoor

Independent

Date Written: December 24, 2022

Abstract

We study how correcting people’s beliefs about social norms and behavioral trends encourages collective action in a setting where the desired behavior is not yet prevalent. In a field experiment among 1,709 subjects, we test whether low sign-up rates for a recycling program in urban Peru can be increased by providing information (1) that most people regard participation in the program as important, i.e., on the "injunctive norm", (2) on an increasing recent trend in sign-up rates. Correcting inaccurate beliefs increases sign-up decisions significantly among people who underestimate either the injunctive norm or the positive trend. This evidence demonstrates that belief updating can be used effectively to encourage collective action where it is currently weak.

Keywords: Belief updating, social norms, recycling, collective action

JEL Classification: Q53, D90, D91, C93, D83

Suggested Citation

Fuhrmann-Riebel, Hanna and D’Exelle, Ben and López Vargas, Kristian and Tonke, Sebastian and Verschoor, Arjan, Correcting Misperceptions About Trends and Norms to Address Weak Collective Action (December 24, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4311583 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4311583

Hanna Fuhrmann-Riebel (Contact Author)

German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS) ( email )

Tulpenfeld 6
Bonn, 53113
Germany

Ben D’Exelle

University of East Anglia (UEA) ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

Kristian López Vargas

University of California, Santa Cruz ( email )

1156 High Street
Economics
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States

HOME PAGE: http://kmlv.github.io/

Sebastian Tonke

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

Arjan Verschoor

Independent ( email )

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