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Evaluating the Impact of Social Norm Enforcement on the Effectiveness of Pledging and Planning Nudges
Last registered on January 04, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Evaluating the Impact of Social Norm Enforcement on the Effectiveness of Pledging and Planning Nudges
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003735
Initial registration date
January 03, 2019
Last updated
January 04, 2019 10:41 PM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Harvard University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2018-12-14
End date
2019-03-14
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The study investigates behavioral nudges involving "implementation intentions" — specifically, pledging and planning — to see whether these nudges might be more effective when made in a more social context where there is greater social norm enforcement and one's reputation is more salient. Specifically, the study involves work with the Harvard University Office for Sustainability to nudge students to make pledges or plans to make environmentally-conscious choices and "winterize" their dorms before the winter recess at the university, and then see whether there is a difference in winterization rates between students who received "private" nudges and students who received the nudge in "observable" contexts. Harvard University suites in participating undergraduate housing locations are randomly assigned to experimental conditions that combine a "private" or "observable" nudge / an information-only control with an ask to winterize in which winterization is framed either as a pro-social behavior or as an action yielding private benefit. After the experimental materials are distributed to students, Harvard University staff conduct inspections of each room during the university's winter recess and record whether each suite has been winterized.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Ulyanov, Anton. 2019. "Evaluating the Impact of Social Norm Enforcement on the Effectiveness of Pledging and Planning Nudges." AEA RCT Registry. January 04. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3735-1.0.
Former Citation
Ulyanov, Anton. 2019. "Evaluating the Impact of Social Norm Enforcement on the Effectiveness of Pledging and Planning Nudges." AEA RCT Registry. January 04. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3735/history/39962.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Student suites in participating undergraduate housing locations at Harvard University are provided with printed materials about dorm winterization in advance of the university's winter recess. Each type of material represents a treatment in the 3x2x2 experimental design:

(a)(i): an information-only control condition in which winterization is framed as a behavior yielding a private benefit
(a)(ii): an information-only control condition in which winterization is framed as a pro-social behavior

(b)(i)(1) a nudge to make a pledge to winterize in which winterization is framed as a behavior yielding a private benefit and the pledge is being made in private by signing a pledge card
(b)(i)(2) a nudge to make a pledge to winterize in which winterization is framed as a behavior yielding a private benefit and the pledge is being made publicly by pasting a signed pledge card on the exterior face of the suite door
(b)(ii)(1) a nudge to make a pledge to winterize in which winterization is framed as a pro-social behavior and the pledge is being made in private by signing a pledge card
(b)(ii)(2) a nudge to make a pledge to winterize in which winterization is framed as a pro-social behavior and the pledge is being made publicly by pasting a signed pledge card on the exterior face of the suite door

(b)(i)(1) a nudge to make a plan to winterize in which winterization is framed as a behavior yielding a private benefit and the plan is being made in private by going through a winterization checklist
(b)(i)(2) a nudge to make a plan to winterize in which winterization is framed as a behavior yielding a private benefit and the plan is being made publicly by pasting a winterization checklist on the exterior face of the suite door
(b)(ii)(1) a nudge to make a plan to winterize in which winterization is framed as a pro-social behavior and the plan is being made in private by going through a winterization checklist
(b)(ii)(2) a nudge to make a plan to winterize in which winterization is framed as a pro-social behavior and the plan is being made publicly by pasting a winterization checklist on the exterior face of the suite door
Intervention Start Date
2018-12-14
Intervention End Date
2018-12-21
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. rates at which windows in student rooms are closed and sealed
2. rates at which all lights in student rooms are turned off
3. rates at which the heating in student rooms is turned down to the appropriate "winter recess" setting
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Harvard University staff conduct inspections of each student room during the university's winter recess, and record data concerning the winterization outcomes above for each suite.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1. rates at which student suites follow through on the ask to make a pledge or a plan
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Data is collected on whether students in both the private and observable pledging and planning conditions actually followed through and made the pledge / plan.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Harvard University suites in participating undergraduate housing locations are randomly assigned to experimental conditions that combine a "private" or "observable" nudge (pledge or a plan) / an information-only control with an ask to winterize in which winterization is framed either as a pro-social behavior or as an action yielding private benefit. Students making the pledge are asked to sign a pledge card, and those making the plan are asked to work through a checklist of suite winterization actions. Those making the private pledge / plan are asked to upload photos of their completed experimental materials to an online form, while those making the observable pledge / plan are asked to attach their completed experimental materials to the exterior faces of their suite doors.

After the experimental materials are distributed to students, Harvard University staff conduct inspections of each room during the university's winter recess and record whether each suite has been winterized across a number of outcome dimensions. Additionally, data is collected on whether students in both the private and observable pledging and planning conditions actually followed through and made the pledge / plan.
Experimental Design Details
It is hypothesized that pledging and planning nudges can be made more effective through greater observability of an actor’s commitment, and that these effects will be stronger for actions with a pro-social frame rather than those primarily yielding a private benefit.
Randomization Method
randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
the randomization is conducted at the level of groups of student suites, typically corresponding to one "entryway" in a participating housing location
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
111 clusters of student suites
Sample size: planned number of observations
754 individual student suites
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Suite Counts by Treatment:

(a)(i) Control / Private Benefit Frame: 104
(a)(ii) Control / Pro-Social Frame: 104

(b)(i)(1) Plan / Private Benefit Frame / Private Nudge: 70
(b)(i)(2) Plan / Private Benefit Frame / Observable Nudge: 76
(b)(ii)(1) Plan / Pro-Social Frame / Private Nudge: 65
(b)(ii)(2) Plan / Pro-Social Frame / Observable Nudge: 72

(c)(i)(1) Pledge / Private Benefit Frame / Private Nudge: 61
(c)(i)(2) Pledge / Private Benefit Frame / Observable Nudge: 72
(c)(ii)(1) Pledge / Pro-Social Frame / Private Nudge: 64
(c)(ii)(2) Pledge / Pro-Social Frame / Observable Nudge: 66
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS