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22 April 2024 - 22 April 2024

4:00PM - 5:00PM

Durham University Business School and Online

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Join us for a Centre for Experimental Methods and Behavioural Research hosted seminar with Dr Danae Arroyos-Calvera (Birmingham).

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Durham University Business School

Beyond Social Influence: Understanding the Efficacy of Non-Social Recommendations

Authors: Danae Arroyos-Calvera, Johannes Lohse & Rebecca McDonald

Do recommendations need to contain social information to change behaviour? Using two online experiments with 1280 participants, we examine the influence of different recommendations on behaviour in allocation and risk tasks. The recommendations are based on normatively relevant information (i.e., the most common choice amongst previous decision-makers), or they are transparently random (i.e., generated at random by the computer). We analyse whether the socially informed recommendations are more powerful in shifting behaviour than the transparently random ones. Our results show that social recommendations tend to shift choices toward the recommended option, consistent with prior research on norm compliance. However, the effect sizes and directions are statistically indistinguishable from those resulting from transparently random recommendations. This rules out norm compliance as the sole mechanism through which social recommendations influence behaviour, and suggests that in fact recommendations do not need to contain social information to change behaviour. In a follow up study (n=620), we explore the possible mechanisms beyond norm compliance that can explain why people follow recommendations: a social norm to follow recommendations, moral wiggle room, reminders of normative actions, tie-breakers and experimenter demand effects.

About the speaker
Danae is a behavioural economist using experiments to explore how risk, time and concern for other people shape individuals’ decisions, morality and the value they attribute to life and health. Her work sheds light on fundamental aspects of the nature of these preferences, whilst informing policy appraisal and evaluation procedures such as the estimation of the societal value of preventing fatalities and illness or injuries.