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Alexandr Lenk

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Graduate Student Research Funding | 2021 - 2022 Academic Year

Can Moral Nudges Play a Role in Development? Evidence from a Field Experiment with Promises

Government and Institutions
Innovations in Methods and Data
work, Entrepreneurship, and finance

Recent evidence from behavioral studies in development has shown that soft enforcement devices based on reputation and social signaling can play a role in improving the behavior of agents in various domains such as household finance, health care or sanitation. Understanding when and why such soft enforcement devices can influence behavior is even more important in settings where weak institutions hamper formal contracting and where trust in agencies of the state is low. In this project, Lenk proposes to study a novel moral nudge, the adoption of a promise, and to understand the extent to which this moral nudge can be used to improve agents’ labor market search behavior as well as the mechanisms underlying its effect. The application of the promise nudge is appealing due to the universal nature of the norm of promise-fulfilment, thus making its potential for scalability and external validity is high.


Alexandr Lenk, Department of Economics

Alexandr Lenk

Alex Lenk is a 4th year PhD student in economics at Stanford. His main areas of research are behavioral and development economics, with a special interest in the role of morality and moral norms in decision-making and the use of moral incentives as behavioral nudges. Lenk's secondary interests lie in the domain of machine learning and econometrics. He has worked on projects with the World Bank analyzing traffic video data in Nairobi and has designed large scale experiments as part of his internship at Amazon.

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