A fine is a more effective financial deterrent when framed retributively and extracted publicly
Fonseca, Miguel A.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Reason for embargo
Introducing monetary fines to decrease an undesired behavior can sometimes have the counterintuitive effect of increasing the prevalence of the behavior being targeted. Such findings raise important social psychological questions in relation to both the way in which financial penalties are framed and the social contexts in which they are administered. In a field experiment (Study 1), we informed participants who had signed up for an experiment that they would be fined if they arrived late. This fine was presented as either compensatory or retributive in nature and as being administered either privately or publicly. We then observed participants’ subsequent arrival time. In accordance with our hypotheses, participants’ punctuality was only improved (relative to a no-fine control) in response to retributive rather than compensatory fines and when told that fines would be administered publicly rather than privately. In Study 2 we used a scenario method to demonstrate that the greater efficacy of retributively framed fines can be attributed to their presence being less likely to undermine the perceived immorality of transgression than is the case for compensatory fines. We propose a material promotion-moral prevention (MPMP) theory to account for our findings and consider its practical implications for the use of financial disincentives to encourage cooperative behavior through public policy in domains such as climate change.
Copyright © 2014, Elsevier.
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2014, Vol. 54, pp. 170 – 177 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2014.04.015
Vol. 54, pp. 170 - 177