Vetter, M. & F. KutznerNudge me if you can – How defaults and attitude strength interact to change behavior

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Max Vetter & Florian Kutzner

Release date:
February 2016

Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology, advance online publication

Defaults, such as preselected options that become effective without active choice, are becoming increasingly popular as the idea of nudging enters the political arena. Their interplay with individual attitudes is largely unknown. In two preregistered and highly powered experimental studies, the authors examined how defaults and attitudes interact to influence decision-making. In both studies, they manipulated the default electricity provider (gray versus green electricity sources) and measured environmental attitudes and attitude strength. The default manipulation and measures of attitude strength independently predicted people’s choices. Yet, the authors found no compelling evidence for an attenuated default effect for participants with strong preexisting attitudes. Implications for the concept of libertarian paternalism and the use of green defaults as a means for policymakers to foster pro-environmental choices are discussed.

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