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Impact of Advice on Behavior Change: Experimental Evidence from Children - Mert Gümren

Impact of Advice on Behavior Change: Experimental Evidence from Children

Abstract: Using a lab-in-the-field experiment with elementary school children, I explore the impact of advice and advisor gender on behavior change in three different experimental games measuring grit (perseverance after failure), risk taking, and other regarding preferences. I use a design in which children have an option to buy costly advice from a child in another school who participated in the same experimental games. After viewing the advice, children can modify their initial decisions. On average, children are willing to pay positive amounts to receive advice from their peers. I examine the effects of different types of advice (which may be higher, lower, or equivalent to children's initial choices) on behavior change after advice. I find that grittier advice is significantly more likely to lead to behavior change in the direction of the advice than less gritty advice. In the risk task and dictator game, children's decisions are susceptible to any type of advice, and both types of advice have a similar influence on the revised choices following advice. The impact of the type of advice on behavior change does not depend on the gender of the advisor. Using a novel task designed to measure descriptive norms in children, I explore perceived social norms as a potential mechanism through which advice has an impact on behavior. The advice of a child from another school alters children's expectations about their classmates' behavior.