Behavioral Economics

Christina Gravert (University of Copenhagen)

  • Nudge Me! The response to and demand for healthy habit reminders

  • An extensive literature documents that reminders can increase beneficial habits, but that they occasionally lead to reactance. To better understand when reminders are beneficial, this paper analyzes three mechanisms of reminders, temporary increase in attention to a task, change in beliefs about the task, and emotional utility from doing the task. We develop a theoretical model that elucidates these mechanisms and contrasts them with the annoyance costs of reminders. We run a nationwide field experiment on medication adherence with over 4000 pregnant women in South Africa to test our model predictions. In line with our model, our results show that pure reminders which affect attention without conveying any information or moral message have a significant positive effect on stated adherence levels. Adding an emotional trigger to the reminders, which could affect the emotional utility of carrying out the behavior, also increases adherence. Contrary to our model, additional health information which is intended to increase beliefs about the importance of the behavior, significantly reduces adherence, while having no differential effect on beliefs and knowledge. We further theoretically and experimentally investigate the demand for reminders and show that both pure reminders and emotional triggers have a positive effect on demand, while additional information decreases demand. Finally, we conduct a structural estimation to determine the welfare effects of different types of reminders.

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  • Address:
Marja-Liisa Halko

University of Helsinki

marja-liisa.halko at