Speaker: Che-Wei Liu, University of Maryland
Presentation Title: Is It Better to Give Than to Receive? Leveraging Digital Social Connections for Healthy Behavior
Abstract: Motivating individuals to engage in healthy behavior has long persisted as a major challenge in society. Self-interest based financial incentives have been widely deployed, but there is an urgent need to improve their effectiveness. We investigate a new motivational incentive that is based on reciprocity and can be leveraged in conjunction with financial incentives to promote desirable behavior. We conducted a large randomized field experiment with over 1,700 pairs of users on a mobile social network platform. Individuals in our experiment receive a gift from their friends, and are asked to return this favor by participating in a challenge related to physical activity. We find that on average, reciprocity outperforms self-interest in motivating individuals to exercise more. More importantly, our results reveal that the magnitude of the reciprocity effect is contingent on the social closeness between the senders and the receivers. Interestingly, the social closeness has an inverted U-shaped influence on the reciprocity effect. The reciprocity effect is strongest when closeness is moderate, and wanes when closeness is either too strong or too weak. Compared to the widely used self-interest based financial incentives, our findings open a potentially more powerful venue for mechanism design in promoting healthy behavior. This mechanism can be implemented cost-effectively with improved precision for better outcomes using today’s ubiquitous digital social connections and wearable devices.
Bio: Che-Wei Liu is currently a doctoral candidate in the Decision, Operations and Information Technologies Department at the Robert H. Smith School of Business of the University of Maryland. His main research interests are Business Analytics, Mobile Health, and Business Value of IT. He is expected to graduate in May 2018. His research methodology lies in the intersections of various business analytics methods, including econometrics, social network analyses, field experiments, and lab experiments. He has presented his research at several premier conferences and workshops such as the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), Conference of Information Systems and Technology (CIST), Workshop on Information Technology and Systems (WITS), Workshop on Information Systems and Economics (WISE), International Conference for Smart Health (ICSH), China Summer Workshop on Information Management (CSWIM), and Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management (AOM). His research has been awarded the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) Best Paper runner-up and nominated for International Conference for Smart Health (ICSH) Best Paper award.