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Behavioral spillover effects of default choice

Conference contribution
Authors Martin Hedesström
Lars-Olof Johansson
Published in Proceeding of 31st International Congress of Psychology, Yokohama, Japan
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Psychology
Centre for Finance
Language en
Links www.icp2016.jp/program08.html
Subject categories Applied Psychology

Abstract

Research demonstrates that ”nudging” significantly affects choice. A caveat is that such studies generally do not account for spillover effects. Moral licensing theory predicts that having made a prosocial choice sometimes makes decision makers feel “licensed” to subsequently choose proself options. We present experiments where each participant makes 2 choices. In Choice1 they keep/donate a bonus to a children’s cancer charity; in Choice2 they keep/donate a possible lottery prize to the same charity. Both parents and non-parents were more (less) likely to donate in Choice1 when “donate” (“keep”) was default. Among Choice1 donors, nudged non-parents donated less in Choice2 (which had no default option) than non-nudged. Conversely, nudged parents tended to donate more in Choice2 compared to non-nudged. In a follow-up replication, self-reported guilt/pride indicated moral licensing only among non-parents. Nudging may produce different spillover effects depending on the degree to which the choice reflects one’s self-identity.

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