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Small Is Big: Interactive Trumps Passive Information in Breaking Information Barriers and Impacting Behavioral Antecedents

posted on 2017-01-18, 17:43 authored by Ariane L. Beck, Kiran Lakkaraju, Varun Rai

The wealth of information available on seemingly every topic creates a considerable challenge both for information providers trying to rise above the noise and discerning individuals trying to find relevant, trustworthy information. We approach this information problem by investigating how passive versus interactive information interventions can impact the antecedents of behavior change using the context of solar energy adoption, where persistent information gaps are known to reduce market potential. We use two experiments to investigate the impact of both passive and interactive approaches to information delivery on the antecedents (attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control in the Theory of Planned Behavior) of intentions and behavior, as well as their effect on intentions and behavior directly. The passive information randomized control trial delivered via Amazon Mechanical Turk tests the effectiveness of delivering the same content in a single message versus multiple shorter messages. The interactive information delivery uses an online (mobile and PC) trivia-style gamification platform. Both experiments use the same content and are carried out over a two-week time period. Our findings suggest that interactive, gamified information has greater impact than passive information, and that shorter multiple messages of passive information are more effective than a single passive message.