Peer effects, Rewards, and Image Concerns in Energy Decision (PRICED)

Last registered on December 17, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Peer effects, Rewards, and Image Concerns in Energy Decision (PRICED)
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003951
Initial registration date
February 27, 2019
Last updated
December 17, 2019, 9:46 AM EST

Locations

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Georgia State University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Bologna
PI Affiliation
London School of Economics and Political Science

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2019-02-27
End date
2020-06-30
Secondary IDs
OSF y6n3c
Abstract
We have partnered with a renewable energy provider to implement a field experimental study to test the effects of image concerns and financial incentives on the private adoption of renewable energy tariffs. To causally identify the effect of each intervention on behavior in the experiment, we will study the geographical distribution of customers and treat randomly selected defined geographical areas, ensuring that comparable areas are allocated across treatment and control groups. In the study proposed here, we will carefully select triplets comprised of three similar household clusters to each
receive one of the treatments. A first treatment will allow us determining the effect of social image (as defined in Benabou and Tirole, 2006) on green energy adoption and customer retention. By comparing with a second treatment, in which financial incentives are combined with social rewards, the effect of each of these two elements can be disentangled. Financial incentives may either reinforce (crowd in) or attenuate (crowd out) the effect of social rewards. Finally, the experimental design will allow us to determine the effects of the visibility of pro-social behavior on local peer adoption. Importantly, the study will allow us to generate exogenous variation in the visibility of pro-social behavior, potentially leading to additional adoption through social contagion effects.

Registration Citation

Citation
Carattini, Stefano, Greer Gosnell and Alessandro Tavoni. 2019. "Peer effects, Rewards, and Image Concerns in Energy Decision (PRICED)." AEA RCT Registry. December 17. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3951-1.1
Former Citation
Carattini, Stefano et al. 2019. "Peer effects, Rewards, and Image Concerns in Energy Decision (PRICED)." AEA RCT Registry. December 17. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3951/history/59032
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
We have partnered with a renewable energy provider to implement a field experimental study to test the effects of image concerns and financial incentives on the private adoption of renewable energy tariffs. To causally identify the effect of each intervention on behavior in the experiment, we will study the geographical distribution of customers and treat randomly selected defined geographical areas, ensuring that comparable areas are allocated across treatment and control groups. In the study proposed here, we will carefully select triplets comprised of three similar household clusters to each receive one of the treatments. A first treatment will allow us determine the effect of social image (as defined in Benabou and Tirole, 2006) on green energy adoption and customer retention. By comparing with a second treatment, in which financial incentives are combined with social rewards, the effect of each of these two elements can be disentangled. Financial incentives may either reinforce (crowd in) or attenuate (crowd out) the effect of social rewards. Finally, the experimental design will allow us to determine the effects of the visibility of pro-social behavior on local peer adoption. Importantly, the study will allow us to generate exogenous variation in the visibility of pro-social behavior, potentially leading to additional adoption through social contagion effects.
Intervention Start Date
2019-02-27
Intervention End Date
2020-06-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Intent to be part of the study as reported in the randomized consent elicitation process, as a function of the messaging received (control, treatment 1, treatment 2)
2. Self-reported use of signposts, and window clings, in treatment 1 (no financial incentive) compared to control (no intervention)
3. Difference in the self-reported use of signposts and stickers, between treatment 1 and treatment 2
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1. Compliance (conditional on having consented) in treatment 1, treatment 2, for the use of signposts and window clingers, as a function of the messaging received
2. Difference between observed compliance and stated compliance and between estimated compliance and stated compliance
3. Adoption by others as attributable to our interventions (social contagion) with aggregate data analysis at the level of randomization (control groups both with consent—and therefore access to energy data—and without)
4. Adoption by others as attributable to our interventions (social contagion) using household-specific data on referrals (referral code unique to households)
5. Adoption by others as attributable to our interventions (social contagion) as a function of the characteristics of the “seeds”, which in turn may be a function of the messaging received (as well as other characteristics that will be observed in the data)
6. Potential contamination and spillover effects that our localized intervention could not prevent; Hawthorne-like effects if the design may allow them to take place in the untreated (in principle) control group that provides consent
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
There are two sources of exogenous variation in the study. Exogenous assignment to receive materials constitutes the first level of randomization. Households will first be assigned to either the control group (receiving no materials), treatment 1 (receiving materials with no incentive for displaying them), or treatment 2 (receiving materials with a financial incentive to display them). Within the treatment groups, half will receive a recruitment email that details the intervention to which they have been assigned, while half will receive a recruitment email that provides no information on the intervention (identical to the email sent to the consenting control group).
Experimental Design Details
Households will be assigned to either control, treatment 1 (sign - no incentive), or treatment 2 (sign - incentive) using a stratified randomization. We randomly allocate 3,320 eligible postcode sectors (from the postcode sectors with at least one Good Energy customer as of February 2019) to be in one of the following 5 groups:

Control, Control consent email

Treatment 1, Control consent email

Treatment 2, Control consent email

Treatment 1, Treatment 1 consent email

Treatment 2, Treatment 2 consent email

Individuals in treatment groups 1 and 2 will receive either a garden sign or a window cling depending on whether they live in a detached, semi-detached house, or ground-floor flat (sign assignment) or a terraced home or apartment building (sticker assignment). Housing type will be determined according to the following procedure. Upon consent provision, participants will be asked to select their dwelling type from a list of options, representative of housing types in the United Kingdom (i.e. flat, terraced home, detached/semi-detached, cottage/bungalow, etc.). If consenting participants leave our platform without having provided information on their housing type, signs or clings will be assigned based on the characteristics, in terms of dwelling types, of the area where they live, which is identified with postcode sector level data. Information on whether determination is based on self-reported information or administrative records can be used to reduce noise in the empirical analyses. Additional information (e.g. floor number for flats) may be optionally requested in a study debrief survey to inform our analyses on the role of visibility for both behaviors driven by social rewards and social contagion.
Randomization Method
Stratified randomization (done in office by a computer).
Randomization Unit
Postcode sector. Treatment assignment is defined at the postcode sector, hence all existing Good Energy customers (“seeds”) in a given postcode sector are assigned to the same treatment.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Households within postcode sectors. 664 postcode sectors per treatment arm.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Upper bound at the total number of GoodEnergy customers (some 60,000). Consent is necessary to participate in the experiment and so the number of observations varies depending on the fraction of consenting individuals.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
664 postcode sectors per treatment arm.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
London School of Economics and Political Science Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
2019-02-15
IRB Approval Number
REC Ref # 000650

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
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