NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Guglielmo Briscese

University of Chicago
5807 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

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Institutional Affiliation: University of Chicago

NBER Working Papers and Publications

March 2020Expectations, reference points, and compliance with COVID-19 social distancing measures
with Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis, Mirco Tonin: w26916
We surveyed representative samples of Italian residents at three critical points in the COVID-19 pandemic, to test whether and how intentions to comply with social-isolation restrictions respond to the duration of their possible extension. Individuals reported being more likely to reduce, and less likely to increase, their self-isolation effort if negatively surprised by a given hypothetical extension (i.e., if the extension is longer than what they expected), whereas positive surprises had no impact. These results are consistent with reference-dependent preferences, with individual expectations serving as a reference point, and loss aversion. Our findings indicate that public authorities should carefully manage expectations about policy measures and account for behavioral reactions to dev...
 
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