nep-nud New Economics Papers
on Nudge and Boosting
Issue of 2023‒09‒11
two papers chosen by
Marco Novarese, Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

  1. Can Social Comparisons and Moral Appeals Induce a Modal Shift Towards Low-Emission Transport Modes? By Johannes Gessner; Wolfgang Habla; Ulrich J. Wagner
  2. ‘Fear of the Light’? Transparency does not reduce the effectiveness of nudges. A data-driven review By Hendrik Bruns; Adrien Fillon,; Zacharias Maniadis; Yavor Paunov

  1. By: Johannes Gessner; Wolfgang Habla; Ulrich J. Wagner
    Abstract: Under pressure to reduce CO2 emissions, companies are beginning to replace subsidized company car schemes with so-called mobility budgets that employees can spend on leisure and commuting trips, using a broad range of transport modes. Given their novelty, little is known about how mobility budgets should be designed to encourage sustainable choices. Since prices play a limited role in this subsidized setting, our study focuses on behavioral interventions. In a field experiment with 341 employees of a large German company, we test whether social comparisons, either in isolation or in combination with a climate-related moral appeal, can change the use of different means of transportation. We find strong evidence for a reduction in car-related mobility in response to the combined treatment, which is driven by changes in taxi and ride-sharing services. This is accompanied by substitution towards micromobility, i.e., transport modes such as shared e-scooters or bikes, but not towards public transport. We do not find any effects of the social comparison alone. Our results demonstrate that small, norm-based nudges can change transportation behavior, albeit for a limited time.
    Keywords: mobility behavior, randomized experiment, nudging, descriptive norm, injunc- tive norm, social norms, moral appeal, habit formation
    JEL: C93 D04 D91 L91
    Date: 2023–08
  2. By: Hendrik Bruns; Adrien Fillon,; Zacharias Maniadis; Yavor Paunov
    Abstract: Does transparency reduce the effectiveness of nudges? The question is central in recent research about nudges, since it leads to ethical and practical implications regarding responsibility, agency, the design of nudges and policy-making. We meta-analysed results from 19 studies comparing transparent to opaque nudges and found no difference in the effectiveness of the nudge. We then tested several moderators such as the type of experiment (Online, Laboratory, Field), Category (structure, information, assistance) and domain (environment, food, health, pro-social and other) and found no meaningful moderator. We note that only two studies were conducted in the field and that there is an over-representation of default nudges in the studies included. We call for an improvement of research conducted on transparent nudges and the inclusion of more types of nudges, preferably in a field setting. It is also important to define what form of transparency societies require for respecting their citizen’s autonomy.
    Keywords: nudge, transparency, meta-analysis, review
    Date: 2023–08–21

This nep-nud issue is ©2023 by Marco Novarese. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.