The Effects of Incentives on Individuals' Planning Behavior

Awarded Scholars:
Erin Todd Bronchetti, Swarthmore College
Ellen Magenheim, Swarthmore College
Judd Kessler, University of Pennsylvania
Dmitry Taubinsky, Harvard University
Eric Zwick, University of Chicago
Project Date:
Jul 2016
Award Amount:
$35,000

Many beneficial behaviors, such as saving and academic achievement, require repeated action, and may require planning ahead. Research from psychology and economics has demonstrated that making a plan can increase participation in both one-shot actions and repeated behaviors. However, the literature provides less evidence about how to motivate individuals to plan, or whether people plan as much as they should.

Economist Erin Bronchetti and colleagues will compare how individuals' planning behavior responds to incentives for planning versus incentives for action, and analyze the extent to which people use plan-making optimally. For example, when people receive greater incentives to complete their tasks, do they increase their plan-making optimally? The study aims to shed light on whether it may be more cost effective to design interventions that encourage completion of a task by incentivizing the intermediate step of planning.

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