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 and the Return of the Nation State

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This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

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