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:
|'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.'
|'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%|