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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
Subject categories Applied Psychology


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.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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