All by myself? Testing descriptive social norm-nudges to increase flood preparedness among homeowners

Jantsje M. Mol, Wouter Botzen, Julia Blasch, Elissa Kranzler, Howard Kunreuther

Research output: Working paper / PreprintWorking paperAcademic


Social norms are rules of behavior that are commonly approved by society and personal norms represent what people believe to be appropriate behavior for themselves. Nudges based on social norms (norm-nudges) can be compelling interventions compared to traditional interventions such as taxes and regulations, but they do not work in all circumstances. We tested two empirical norm-nudge frames in an online experiment with large representative samples of homeowners (N = 1805) in two European countries, to evaluate the possible interactions between norm-nudge effectiveness, individual characteristics and intercultural differences. We contrasted these norm-nudge treatments with a control treatment and a norm focusing treatment, where respondents are asked to express their beliefs about what other respondents would do before making a decision relevant to their own payoff. We find no evidence of a treatment effect, suggesting that social norm-nudges do not affect flood preparedness in the context of a flood risk investment game. However, results demonstrate that investments in risk reduction measures are positively related to beliefs and personal norms as well as other variables related to risk perceptions. We discuss our contribution to the environmental nudge literature and derive policy implications.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherSSRN e-library
Number of pages45
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Nov 2020


  • Flood preparedness
  • Homeowners
  • Lab-in-the-field experiment
  • Norm-nudges
  • Social information
  • Social norms


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