No trust in the choice architect? No problem! On the minor role of trust for the effectiveness of default interventions promoting the choice of energy-efficient appliances

Sascha Kuhn*, John Thøgersen, Florian Kutzner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Pre-selected options, also known as defaults, have been shown to influence choices about everything from organ donations to retirement savings and mundane consumer decisions. Yet, boundary conditions of default effects need to be understood to determine their legitimacy as a behavioral policy instrument. Although default effects are multiply determined, they partly work through being perceived as recommendations by the source, the choice architect. This implies that trust in the choice architect may play a role in default effects. In default experiments in two countries – the Philippines (n = 909) and the U.S. (n = 925) – we manipulate trust. As expected, we find a strong default effect on the choice of energy-efficient appliances, which is of similar size across the two countries. The trust manipulation significantly influenced trust in the choice architect (the real estate agent) and the number of energy-efficient appliances chosen in the U.S. However, it did not change the default effect, which seems robust against mistrust in the choice architect. All in all, the study speaks for the robustness of default effects. The fact that the default effect is robust even when used by untrustworthy choice architects calls for regulation of its use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102115
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Volume91
Number of pages17
ISSN0272-4944
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Behavior change
  • Efficiency behaviors
  • Environmental concern
  • Pro-environmental behavior

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