Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ideology Matters!

Over at the Vox website (here), UCLA economists Dora Costa and Matthew Kahn report on an empirical study of the effects of ideology on "nudging" - non-regulatory efforts to generate individual behavioral changes, e.g., by the provision of information, to improve the well-being of the nudged individuals. They provide evidence from a randomised nudging strategy in which energy consumers were given energy saving tips and information about their energy use relative to their neighbors. Interestingly, they found that Democratic households responded to the nudges by reducing energy consumption by between 3% and 6%. But Republican households actually responded by increasing energy consumption. Their conclusion: "If the same message 'turns on' greens but 'turns off' more conservative individuals, then to reach out to all members of a diverse population requires a mixed-message strategy."

The full article is here.

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