A gentle nudge at the right moment can curb unnecessary spending online

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A gentle nudge at the right moment can curb unnecessary spending online
Photo by Eric Sucar
By Michele W. Berger
July 25, 2018

Garrett Meccariello and Tobias Nasgarde, who will complete Penn’s inaugural Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences (MBDS) program this August, found a practical way to apply the skills they’ve learned in the program.

“We’ve all been on websites where you have a one-click purchase. You don’t have time to think, ‘Do I need this?’” says Nasgarde. “Research has shown that when you’re in a cashless environment you spend a larger amount and you buy a larger number of items.”

“We’re trying to get in front of spending behavior that’s unnecessary,” Meccariello adds, “to help people make better choices.”

The students submitted a grant application to the Think Forward Initiative, which led to a research project and some interesting results. It turns out that gently nudging an online shopper with specific language at the right moment can reduce excess spending by almost 25 percent.

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