Beyond Social Influence: Examining the Efficacy of Non-Social Recommendations

27 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2023 Last revised: 26 Jul 2023

See all articles by Danae Arroyos-Calvera

Danae Arroyos-Calvera

University of Birmingham

Johannes Lohse

University of Birmingham - Birmingham Business School

Rebecca McDonald

University of Birmingham

Date Written: June 5, 2023

Abstract

This paper investigates whether recommendations need to contain social information to change behavior in risk and allocation tasks. Two online experiments with 1280 participants examine whether a recommendation based on normatively relevant information (i.e., the most common choice amongst previous decision-makers) shifts behaviour more than a transparently random recommendation. Our results show that social recommendations tend to shift choices toward the recommended option, consistent with prior research on norm compliance. However, the effect sizes and directions are statistically indistinguishable from those resulting from transparently random recommendations. This rules out norm compliance as the sole mechanism through which social recommendations influence behaviour. Instead, our findings suggest that recommendations do not need to be social to be effective and that the normative aspect of social information may not be the only mechanism underlying their influence.

Keywords: social norms, recommendations, anchoring, license, behaviour change

JEL Classification: C92, D64, D9

Suggested Citation

Arroyos-Calvera, Danae and Lohse, Johannes and McDonald, Rebecca, Beyond Social Influence: Examining the Efficacy of Non-Social Recommendations (June 5, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4469236 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4469236

Danae Arroyos-Calvera (Contact Author)

University of Birmingham ( email )

Johannes Lohse

University of Birmingham - Birmingham Business School ( email )

Edgbaston Park Road
Birmingham, B15 2TY
United Kingdom

Rebecca McDonald

University of Birmingham

Edgbaston, B15 2TT
United Kingdom

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