Field Experiments in Behavioral and Public Economics
MetadataShow full item record
CitationBhanot, Syon Pandya. 2015. Field Experiments in Behavioral and Public Economics. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThe three essays in this dissertation present field experiments exploring phenomena in behavioral and public economics in real-world settings.
The first essay outlines a field experiment that uses mailers with peer rank information to motivate water conservation. The essay contributes some of the first pieces of evidence on how comparisons with specific peers might influence behavior. The main finding is that while competitive framing of peer information has positive impacts on efficient homes, it has simultaneous negative impacts on inefficient homes, which are larger in magnitude. In particular, the essay finds that households who rank last in a displayed peer comparison are demotivated by their poor performance, and increase their water use relative to controls.
The second essay studies the impact of signing an explicit promise statement at loan initiation on ensuing loan repayment behavior. The essay provides one of the first field tests of a phenomenon observed in laboratory studies, namely that making a promise can change people's ensuing behavior. Interestingly, the essay does not find support for this claim, and shows the potential difficulty in generalizing laboratory results to real-world settings.
The third essay focuses on decision making about risk. Specifically, it presents two field studies that use quasi-random, real-world events to explore how emotions influence risk decisions. These studies are among the first field tests of the relationship between emotion and risk preferences. The essay offers mixed results, finding that negative emotions seem to increase risk aversion only when the emotions derive from events linked to individual self-responsibility.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:17467365
- FAS Theses and Dissertations