Prior behavior and wording of norm nudge requests shape compliance and reciprocity

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Date
2023-03
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Wiley
Abstract

We examined the effect of explicit norm nudge requests for compliance in a field study on workplace dishonesty and three controlled experiments on reciprocity. The requests were presented either with affirmation (e.g., "please pay" and "please remember to pay") or negation (e.g., "please, do not forget to pay") and solicited by either one person or three people who were also the beneficiaries of compliance. We also explored how these requests affected first time and repeated behaviors. We found no effect of the number of people soliciting the requests. However, we did find that for first-time behaviors, any request increased compliance compared with no request, and those worded with affirmation were more effective than those worded with negation. We replicated this pattern in repeated behaviors-both at the group and at the individual level-but only when the initial compliance, before the request, was low. Importantly, no increase emerged when individuals did not receive requests, showing that requests only, and not regression to the mean, explained the effect.

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Keywords
compliance, morality, norms, nudges, reciprocity
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