University of Chicago
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Institutional Affiliation: University of Chicago
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|March 2020||Expectations, reference points, and compliance with COVID-19 social distancing measures|
with , , : 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...