Associate Professor at the Federmann School of Public Policy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

Research interests: Judgment & Decision-Making, Unethical Behavior, Behavioral Public Policy, Choice Architecture. 

Education: Ph.D. and M.A. in Psychology from School of Education at Hebrew Univesity, B.A. in Behavioral Sciences from Ruppin Academic Center, 
Post-doctoral fellowship, with Fulbright scholarship, at Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College of Public Policy 

Contact: Room 1742 | 02-5880150 | 

Recent Publications

Peer, E. & Feldman, Y., Working Paper. Pledging to Behave Honestly. Publisher's VersionAbstract

There are many situations in which people are asked to pledge or to commit to behaving honestly. While there have been studies demonstrating the positive effects of pledges, some of these findings have been challenged, and there have been other studies showing that pledges could be ineffective or even counter-productive. Moreover, several important questions, such as how pledges interact with sanctions, whether their effects last, or how should they be worded, have not been examined systematically. To address these issues, we developed an innovative online paradigm – the “Online Matrix Task” – that facilitates the examination of these and related questions. We examined the effects of pledges in two studies: the first involving two phases of data collection, and the second with a larger and representative sample. We found that pledges can reduce dishonesty significantly in sequential decisions, and not just one-shot decisions. They also reduce dishonesty considerably compared to fines, repeatedly across different times, and consistently across different extents of cheating, different individuals and several different wordings. Our results establish the effects of pledges on reducing cheating, and suggest several directions for future research in order to better understand the underlying mechanisms of how and when pledges can make people behave more honestly.

Peer, E. & Feldman, Y., Working Paper. Honesty Pledges for the Behaviorally-based Regulation of Dishonesty. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A common dilemma in regulation is determining how much trust authorities can place in people’s self-reports, especially in regulatory contexts where the incentive to cheat is very high. In such contexts, regulators, who are typically risk averse, do not readily confer trust, resulting worldwide in excessive requirements when applying for permits, licenses, and the like. Studies in behavioral ethics have suggested that asking people to ex-ante pledge to behave ethically can reduce their level of dishonesty and noncompliance. However, pledges might also backfire by allowing more people to cheat with no real sanctions. Additionally, pledges’ effects have only been studied in one-shot decision making, and they may only have a short-term effect that could decay in the long run, leading to an overall erosion of trust. We explored the interaction of pledges with sanctions and the decay of their effects on people’s honesty by manipulating whether pledges were accompanied by sanctions (fines) and testing their impact on sequential, repeated ethical decisions. We found that pledges considerably and consistently reduced dishonesty, and this effect was not crowded out by the presence of fines. Furthermore, pledges seem to exert an effect on most people, including those who are relatively less inclined to follow rules and norms. We conclude that pledges could be an effective tool for the behavioral regulation of dishonesty, reduce the regulatory burden, and build a more trusting relationship between government and the public, even in areas where incentives and opportunities to cheat are high. 

Peer, E., et al., 2020. Nudge Me Right: Personalizing Online Security Nudges to People's Decision-Making Styles. Computers in Human Behavior , 109 , pp. 106347. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Nudges are simple and effective means to help people make decisions that could benefit themselves or society. However, effects of nudges are limited to local maxima, as they are almost always designed with the “average” person in mind, instead of being customized to different individuals. Such “nudge personalization” has been advocated before, but its actual potency and feasibility has never been systematically investigated. Using the ubiquitous domain of online password nudges as our testbed, we present a novel approach that utilizes people’s decision-making style to personalize the online nudge they receive. In two large-scale studies, we show how and when personalized nudges can lead to considerably stronger and more secure passwords, compared to administering “one-size-fits-all” nudges. We discuss the implications of this findings and how more efforts by researchers and policy-makers should and could be made to guarantee that each individual is nudged in a way most right for them. 

Tikotsky, A., Pe'er, E. & Feldman, Y., 2020. Which nudges do businesses like? Managers’ attitudes towards nudges directed at their business or at their customers. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Behaviorally informed policies of interventions in choice architecture are growingly used to nudge people towards socially desirable behaviors. While consumers are usually the target of those nudges, businesses often serve as “nudging agents" on behalf of government regulation, or may be the target of governmental nudges themselves. Businesses’ support of such behavioral policies might be critical for their implementation, but the perceptions of managers towards nudges has never been directly assessed. We distinguish between government-to-business (G2B) nudges vs. government-to-business-to-consumer (G2B2C) nudges and provide first evidence of business managers’ attitudes towards such interventions. We discover an overall high level of support for nudges, and in particular for G2B nudges, with variations between types of nudges, the domain that they operate in, and whether they benefit the business or the consumer.

Peer, E., et al., 2019. Do minorities like nudges? The role of group norms in attitudes towards behavioral policy. Judgment and Decision Making.Abstract

Attitudes of public groups towards behavioral policy interventions (or nudges) can be important for both the policy makers who design and deploy nudges, and to researchers who try to understand when and why some nudges are supported while others are not. Until now, research on public attitudes towards nudges has focused on either state- or country-level comparisons, or on correlations with individual-level traits, and has neglected to study how different social groups (such as minorities) might view nudges. Using a large and representative sample, we tested the attitudes of two distinct minority groups in Israel (Israeli Arabs and Ultra-Orthodox Jews), and discovered that nudges that operated against a minority group’s held social norms, promoting a more general societal goal not aligned with the group’s norms, were often less supported by minorities. Contrary to expectations, these differences could not be explained by differences in trust in the government applying these nudges. We discuss implications for public policy and for the research and applications of behavioral interventions.

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