We provide first evidence that a soft commitment device enhances progress in education and, more generally, improves the completion of complex tasks—such as passing exams. In our field experiment, students can sign a nonbinding agreement and commit to staying on track for graduation. We find that those who were offered the soft commitment device are more likely to sign up for, take part in, and pass exams. A pure reminder treatment does not change behavior, which suggests that the effects are not driven by increased salience. We also show that procrastinators benefit most from the commitment device.
Himmler, Oliver, Robert Jäckle, and Philipp Weinschenk.
"Soft Commitments, Reminders, and Academic Performance."
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics,
Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
Micro-Based Behavioral Economics: Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
Higher Education; Research Institutions