Event

The Behavioural Mechanisms of Habit Formation: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Water Conservation

Join Lorenz Goette for this week's Economics Seminar Series

  • Tue 30 Oct 18

    16:00 - 17:30

  • Colchester Campus

    Economics Common Room 5B.307

  • Event speaker

    Lorenz Goette

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Economics, Department of

In this Department of Economics Seminar, Lorenz Goette, from the University of Bonn discusses his paper on The Behavioural Mechanisms of Habit Formation: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Water Conservation.

Abstract:

An increasing body of literature documents that temporary interventions have an impact on behavior well after they are over. This has been taken as evidence that individuals form habits. But previous studies are unable to test for the underlying behavioral mechanism: do individuals form habits through a habit stock (Becker and Stigler, 1979) or because the stimulus trains individuals to automatically maintain a certain behavior (Wood and Runger, 2016; Camerer et al., 2018)? Distinguishing between the two mechanisms is important, because they have different policy implications. 

We test the two competing models in a novel experiment in the context of resource use. We use a powerful intervention (real-time feedback) to shift behavior, and vary the intensity of exposure to the stimulus across experimental conditions and time. Our results reject the habit-stock model and strongly favor the view that habits result from automatic control of behavior.

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