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A recent NBER working paper demonstrates the power of social norms in translating communication to action and provides a good example of how messages can be tailored to the intended audience. As summarized in “The Behavioralist as Tax Collector: Using Natural Field Experiments to Enhance Tax Compliance” the highest increase in tax payments for tardy payers was correlated with the use of specific norm-based messaging:

Message Type Impact
'Nine out of ten people pay their tax on time.' Basic norm +1.3%
'Nine out of ten people in the U.K. pay their tax on time.' Country norm +2.1%
'Nine out of ten people in the U.K. pay their tax on time. You are currently
in the very small minority of people who have not paid us yet.'
Minority norm +5.1%
'Paying tax means we all gain from vital public services like the National
Health Service (NHS), roads, and schools.'
Public good (gain) +1.6%
'Not paying tax means we all lose out on vital public services like the NHS,
roads, and schools.'
Public good (loss) +1.6%

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