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Behav Sci (Basel). 2017 Apr 28;7(2). pii: E28. doi: 10.3390/bs7020028.

Failure to CAPTCHA Attention: Null Results from an Honesty Priming Experiment in Guatemala.

Author information

1
Behavioural Insights Team, 4 Matthew Parker St, Westminster, London SW1H 9NP, UK. stewart.kettle@bi.team.
2
World Bank, Praterstrasse 31, 21 stock, Vienna 1020, Austria. marcohernandez@worldbank.org.
3
Behavioural Insights Team, 4 Matthew Parker St, Westminster, London SW1H 9NP, UK. michael.sanders@bi.team.
4
Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University, 120 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6GG, UK. michael.sanders@bi.team.
5
Harvard Business School, Boston, MA 02163, USA. ohauser@hbs.edu.
6
Harvard Behavioral Insights Group, Harvard Kennedy School, Taubman Building, First Floor, 15 Eliot Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. ohauser@hbs.edu.
7
Behavioural Insights Team, 4 Matthew Parker St, Westminster, London SW1H 9NP, UK. simon.ruda@bi.team.

Abstract

We report results from a large online randomised tax experiment in Guatemala. The trial involves short messages and choices presented to taxpayers as part of a CAPTCHA pop-up window immediately before they file a tax return, with the aim of priming honest declarations. In total our sample includes 627,242 taxpayers and 3,232,430 tax declarations made over four months. Treatments include: honesty declaration; information about public goods; information about penalties for dishonesty, questions allowing a taxpayer to choose which public good they think tax money should be spent on; or questions allowing a taxpayer to state a view on the penalty for not declaring honestly. We find no impact of any of these treatments on the average amount of tax declared. We discuss potential causes for this null effect and implications for 'online nudges' around honesty priming.

KEYWORDS:

behavioural economics; international development; randomised field experiments; tax compliance

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