Prosocial nudges and visual indicators increase social distancing, but authoritative nudges do not

Banker, M, Miller, M, Voichek, G, Goor, D and Makov, T (2022) Prosocial nudges and visual indicators increase social distancing, but authoritative nudges do not. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119 (33). ISSN 0027-8424 OPEN ACCESS

Abstract

Social distancing reduces the transmission of COVID-19 and other airborne diseases. To test different ways to increase social distancing, we conducted a field experiment at a major US airport using a system that presented color-coded visual indicators on crowdedness. We complemented those visual indicators with nudges commonly used to increase COVID-19–preventive behaviors. Analyzing data from 57,146 travelers, we find that visual indicators and nudges significantly affected social distancing. Introducing visual indicators increased the share of travelers practicing social distancing, and this positive effect was enhanced by introducing nudges focused on personal benefits (“protect yourself”) and public benefits (“protect others”). Conversely, an authoritative nudge referencing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“don’t break CDC COVID-19 guidelines”) did not change social distancing behavior. Our results demonstrate that visual indicators and informed nudges can boost social distancing and potentially curb the spread of contagious diseases.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Marketing
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2022 15:50
Date of first compliant deposit: 28 Sep 2022
Subjects: Social control
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2022 01:31
URI: https://lbsresearch.london.edu/id/eprint/2665
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