DP8571 Nudging with information: a randomized field experiment on reminders and feedback

Author(s): Giacomo Calzolari, Mattia Nardotto
Publication Date: September 2011
Keyword(s): feedback, inattention, limited memory, mental accounting, randomized field experiment, reminders, sunk cost
JEL(s): C93, D03, D11
Programme Areas: Public Economics, Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=8571

Can people be helped to stick to their plans with a little help from information? We provide a theoretical and empirical analysis of the effects of reminders and feedback on investment activities involving up-front costs and delayed benefits, such as education and healthy behavior. By means of a randomized field experiment, we show that simple weekly reminders induce users of a gym to substantially increase their levels of physical exercise. We show that limited attention helps explain our results, and we find evidence of mental accounting in users' response to the stimulus of reminders. These results show that virtuous behavior, such as following a healthy life style, can be promoted without the need for monetary incentives: providing incentives through information is both effective and cheap.