[Research Seminar] IFLAME: “Can simple psychological interventions increase preventive health investment” A. JOHN – University of Birmingham

Speakers: Anett JOHN
University of Birmingham

Date and Location – Thursday November 25th 2021 from 14:00 to 15:30
in R217 (Lille campus) and on Zoom



Behavioral constraints may explain part of low demand for preventive health products. We test the effects of two light-touch psychological interventions on water chlorination and related health and economic outcomes using a randomized controlled trial among 3750 women in rural Kenya. One intervention encourages participants to visualize alternative realizations of the future; one builds participants’ ability to make concrete plans.

After 12 weeks, visualization increases objectively measured chlorination, reduces diarrhea episodes among children, and increases savings. Effects on chlorination and savings persist after almost three years. Effects of the planning intervention are weaker and largely insignificant. Analysis of mechanisms suggests both interventions increase self-efficacy – beliefs about one’s ability to achieve desired outcomes.

Visualization also increases participants’ skill in forecasting their future util-ity (Gabaix and Laibson 2017). The interventions do not differentially affect beliefs and knowledge about chlorination. Results suggest simple psychological interventions can increase future-oriented behaviors, including use of preventive health technologies.

Keywords: preventive health; water chlorination; visualization; planning; randomized controlled trial. JEL codes: O12, D91, I12