Tell Me Something I Don't Already Know: Informedness and the Impact of Information Programs
David P Byrne, Andrea La Nauze, Leslie A Martin
The Review of Economics and Statistics | Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press (MIT Press) | Published : 2018
We document how imperfect information generates heterogeneous effects in information treatments with personalized high-frequency feedback and peer comparisons. In our field experiment in retail electricity, we find that high and low energy users symmetrically underestimate and overestimate their relative energy use pre-treatment. Responses to personalized feedback, however, are asymmetric. Households that overestimate their relative use and low users both respond by consuming more. These boomerang effects provide evidence that peer-comparison information programs, even those coupled with normative comparisons, are not guaranteed to lead to increases in prosocial behavior.
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Three anonymous referees provided comments that substantially improved this paper. We also thank Victoria Baranov, Yann Burden, Koichiro Ito, Lorenz Goette, Jia Sheen Nah, David Rapson, Tom Wilkening, and many workshop participants. Funding from the ARC, University of Melbourne, and Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society is appreciated. All errors, omissions, and views are our own.: ARC, University of Melbourne, Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society