Erika Große Hokamp
Joachim Weimann

nudging openly - an experimental analysis of nudge transparency in a public good setting

Around the world, policy makers and public authorities are increasingly turning to behaviorally informed interventions (“nudges”) in order to help tackle important contexts of public policy. Despite their impressive merit record, these policy tools have been heavily criticized as being obscure and manipulative, thus facing challenges for their legitimate assertion in the regulatory toolkit. In this study, we seek to assess whether transparency over the use of such interventions may constitute a viable way of addressing these ethical concerns, and focus particularly on the potentially moderating role of something we call “status quo experience”, i.e. subjects’ understanding of the behavioral consequences of different choice architectures. We conduct a laboratory experiment, whereby subjects play three rounds of a public good game, the first of which defaults them towards a fully non-cooperative contribution, while the rest default them towards a fully cooperative one. Subjects in our treatment groups further receive an “informational shock” at varying points in time, disclosing how and why a fully cooperative default contribution is being used. We find that providing subjects with informational disclosure about the nudge intervention did not result in significantly different aggregate behavioral measurements between control and treatment groups. This seems to be independent of status quo experience and of the timing of transparency provision. We nonetheless find some indication that the latter could help sustain cooperation over time.

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Suggested Citation

Große Hokamp, Erika; Weimann, Joachim (2021): Nudging Openly - An Experimental Analysis of Nudge Transparency in a Public Good Setting. Version: 1. German Economic Review. Dataset.

JEL Codes