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Goals as Commitment Device: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Energy Conservation
Last registered on August 19, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Goals as Commitment Device: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Energy Conservation
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003003
Initial registration date
May 17, 2018
Last updated
August 19, 2019 2:50 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Muenster
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Münster
PI Affiliation
University of Münster
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2018-05-18
End date
2019-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
In many economies, households pay for essential goods such as electricity or water after consumption has taken place. With present-biased consumers, such delayed-billing schemes cause overconsumption of the respective good. We build on the literature of commitment devices to test whether self-set energy savings goals reduce electricity consumption.
In cooperation with a large German utility provider, we implement a field experiment in which we offer randomly chosen participants the possibility to set energy savings goals using a new function in a widely used mobile application. Following the theoretical contributions in the literature, we hypothesize that these endogenously chosen goals create references points and allow consumers to exert discipline over the consumption of future selves.
In addition, we test two different versions of our goal-setting intervention that are motivated by predictions from a theoretical model. In our final experimental period, we compare our goal setting treatments with a financial incentive to conserve energy.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Löschel, Andreas, Matthias Rodemeier and Madeline Werthschulte. 2019. "Goals as Commitment Device: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Energy Conservation ." AEA RCT Registry. August 19. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3003-4.0.
Former Citation
Löschel, Andreas, Matthias Rodemeier and Madeline Werthschulte. 2019. "Goals as Commitment Device: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Energy Conservation ." AEA RCT Registry. August 19. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3003/history/51887.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2018-06-15
Intervention End Date
2018-10-05
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Change in monthly energy consumption.

We will also estimate the treatment effect separately for subjects with different levels of present bias (elicited in the post-experimental survey).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We invite households to test a new feature of a mobile application. Registration for testing is possible for one month. Subjects are randomly assigned to two different goal-setting treatments and a control group. In the treatment groups, subjects set themselves energy savings goals. For each subject, the experiment lasts for four months, where the first month serves as a baseline period. In the final month of the experiment, we offer randomly chosen subjects an additional financial incentive to conserve energy and compare its impact to the effect of our goal-setting intervention. Further details of the experimental design become available upon completion of the data collection.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done by mobile application.
Randomization Unit
Individual.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Given estimations from the utility provider, we expect 5,000 households to use the new function.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Given estimations from the utility provider, we expect 5,000 households to use the new function.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Without attrition, we have 1,667 observations per experimental group in month 1, 2 and 3. In month 4 we would have 833 subjects per experimental group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
University of Münster
IRB Approval Date
2017-06-30
IRB Approval Number
N/A