Esposito, G. et al.Nudging to prevent the purchase of incompatible digital products online: An experimental study

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Gabriele Esposito, Penélope Hernández, René van Bavel & José Vila

Release date:
March 2017

PLoS ONE, Volume 12, Issue 3

Ensuring safe and satisfactory online shopping activity, especially among vulnerable consumers such as elderly and less educated citizens, is part of a larger set of consumer policy objectives seeking to strengthen trust in the electronic marketplace. This article contributes to that goal by testing the effectiveness of nudges intended to prevent the purchase of 'incompatible' digital products (i.e., those which cannot be used with the devices owned by consumers or the systems they operate). The authors ran a computerized lab experiment (n = 626) examining three types of nudges, the effects of age and education, and interaction effects between these variables and the nudges. Results show that emotive warning messages and placing incompatibility information at the checkout page rather than earlier in the purchasing process were effective in reducing the purchase of incompatible goods. Age was also a relevant factor: older participants were more likely to purchase incompatible goods. In addition, there was an interaction effect between all nudges and age: two nudges exacerbated the effect of age, while another mitigated it. These results suggest nudges can be an effective policy tool, confirm a generational gap in online behavior, and highlight how nudges can moderate the effect of socio-demographic variables.

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