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Soft Commitments, Reminders and Academic Performance

Himmler, Oliver and Jaeckle, Robert and Weinschenk, Philipp (2017): Soft Commitments, Reminders and Academic Performance.

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Abstract

A large share of students in higher education graduates with delay or fails to obtain a degree at all. In our field experiment, students can sign a non-binding agreement and self-commit to staying on track for graduation. We provide first evidence that soft commitment devices can enhance educational progress and -- more generally -- improve the completion of complex tasks such as passing exams. A pure reminder treatment does not change behavior, suggesting that the effects are not driven by increased salience. As predicted by a simple decision model, we show that procrastinators benefit most from the soft commitment device.

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