How Much Versus Who: Which Social Norms Information Is More Effective?

Document Type




Format of Original

12 p.; 25 cm

Publication Date



Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

Source Publication

Applied Economics

Source ISSN



We conduct an experiment to investigate how different types of information about social norms affect individuals’ stated contributions to a specific pro-environment program, a student ‘green fee’, in the context of a referendum. Compared to students that receive no information about peer contributions, on average, students that receive information about the dollar value range of contributions at peer institutions contribute less while students that learn about the high percentage of students voting ‘yes’ on green fee programs at peer institutions contribute more. The results are economically significant as the absolute values of both effects represent approximately 25% of average contributions. These results suggest that information about participation rates can be more effective than information about dollar amounts in encouraging contributions to environmental initiatives. Of interest to stated preference researchers, we find that results do not change when controlling for self-selection into survey completion.


Applied Economics, Vol. 48, N0. 5 (2016): 389-401. DOI.