Reputation Plays A Role in Participation (Harvard Gazette)

When it comes to projects for the common good, people are more likely to sign up when observability is involved. Results from a study by Harvard, Yale and Federal Trade Commission researchers found that posting a public sign-up sheet in apartment buildings raised participation in a California blackout prevention project from 3% to 9%, compared to 4% when participants were offered a $25 cash reward. This increase occurred more for apartment owners than renters, and also only occurred when the program’s “community benefit” was emphasized. These findings suggest that this method effectively “peer-pressures” people who do not want to appear selfish, especially around others whose opinions matter to them. Harvard Gazette describes more about the reasons why people participate and the impact these findings may have on future policies and initiatives.

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