Working Paper No. 1215

The (Un)compromise Effect

Published: May 7, 2018Pages: 24Keywords: Choice architecture; Compromise effect; Consumer choice; Field experiment; PhilanthropyJEL-codes: C93; D03; D64

The (Un)compromise Effect Mathias Ekström


The current study provides the first experimental test of the compromise effect, i.e. the tendency to choose middle options, in a naturally occurring setting. Simultaneously, I propose and evaluate a novel nudge intended to stimulate active choice—the (un)compromise effect—a compromise effect without an explicit middle option. 63,494 recipients of a mail fundraiser were randomly assigned to one of three sets of suggested donations: [$10, $50, $100, $__ ]; [$10, $50, $100, $250, $500, $__ ]; or [$10, $500, $__ ].

The results support both the compromise effect and the (un)compromise effect: extending the range increased the fraction donating $100 as well as the average donation—independent of whether the middle suggested donations were present or not. Hence, by only providing informative end points, organizations can affect decision-making and at the same time promote individuality through active choice. The results also shed light on why suggested alternatives affect choice in general: they reduce the cognitive cost of figuring out what actions are appropriate.

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union in a Changing World Order

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This book explores how the European Union responds to the ongoing challenges to the liberal international order. These challenges arise both within the EU itself and beyond its borders, and put into question the values of free trade and liberal democracy. 

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