NEW UPDATE: Completed trials may now upload and register supplementary documents (e.g. null results reports, populated pre-analysis plans, or post-trial results reports) in the Post Trial section under Reports, Papers, & Other Materials.
The Impact of Moral Persuasion and Dynamic Pricing on Energy Conservation in Japan
Initial registration date
November 06, 2016
November 06, 2016 10:25 AM EST
University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy
Other Primary Investigator(s)
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies
Additional Trial Information
Firms and governments often use moral suasion and economic incentives to influence intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for various economic activities. To investigate the persistence of such interventions, we randomly assigned households to moral suasion and dynamic pricing that stimulate energy conservation during peak demand hours. Using household-level consumption data for 30-minute intervals, we find significant short-run effects of moral suasion, but the effects diminished quickly after repeated interventions. Economic incentives produced larger and persistent effects, which induced habit formation after the final interventions. While each policy produces substantial welfare gains, economic incentives provide particularly large gains when we consider persistence.
Ida, Takanori, Koichiro Ito and Makoto Tanaka. 2016. "The Impact of Moral Persuasion and Dynamic Pricing on Energy Conservation in Japan." AEA RCT Registry. November 06.
Control Group: The households in this group received an advanced electricity meter,
an in-home display, and the participation reward. Other than that, this group did not receive any treatment.
Moral Suasion Group: The households in this group received an advanced electricity meter, an in-home display, and the participation reward. In addition, this group received "moral suasion for energy conservation;" they were encouraged to voluntarily conserve energy. Economic Incentive Group: The households in this group received an advanced
electricity meter, an in-home display, and the participation reward. In addition, this group received an "economic incentive for energy conservation;" the price they were charged for energy increased during peak hours.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Household-level electricity consumption, Durable Goods Investments, Behavioral Changes in Lifestyles
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Energy consumption was measured in 30 minute intervals.
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
We consider two policy interventions that are most widely used by policymakers in practice. The first intervention is moral suasion, by which policymakers attempt to influence intrinsic motivation for various economic activities. The second intervention is an economic incentive, by which policymakers attempt to influence extrinsic motivation based on standard demand theory. Our main outcome variable is household-level electricity consumption for every 30 minutes. We began by randomly assigning households to one of 3 groups: 1) a moral suasion group, 2) an economic incentive group, and 3) a control group. On peak demand days in summer and winter, we delivered day-ahead and same-day notifications about treatments. For electricity usage during peak demand hours on peak demand days, the moral suasion group received a message requesting voluntary energy conservation with no economic incentives. The economic incentive group was charged high electricity prices during the peak demand hours. We repeated these interventions to analyze hot versus cold decision-making among the groups. The repeated interventions allowed us to estimate how treatment effects change between the first intervention and subsequent interventions. Moreover, we collected electricity usage data after the final interventions to examine potential habit formation. Finally, we conducted a detailed follow-up survey to investigate the mechanism behind our findings.
Experimental Design Details
Customers were sorted by randomly generated numbers and assigned to one of the four groups.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control: 153 households
Moral Suasion Group: 154 households
Economic Incentive Group: 384 households
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
Post Trial Information
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
December 31, 2013, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
April 01, 2014, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
The Persistence of Moral Suasion and Economic Incentives: Field Experimental Evidence from Energy Demand
Ito, Koichiro, Takanori Ida, and Makoto Tanaka. "The Persistence of Moral Suasion and Economic Incentives: Field Experimental Evidence from Energy Demand." Working Paper, April 2015.
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS