The transmission game: Testing behavioral interventions in a pandemic-like simulation
Keywords: 
Pandemics
Behavioral interventions
Transmission game framework
Risk taking
Cognitive reflection
Issue Date: 
25-Feb-2022
Publisher: 
American Association for the Advancement of Science
ISSN: 
2375-2548
Note: 
Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY)
Citation: 
Jan K. Woike et al. ,The transmission game: Testing behavioral interventions in a pandemic-like simulation. Science Advances. 8, eabk0428 (2022).DOI:10.1126/sciadv.abk0428
Abstract
During pandemics, effective nonpharmaceutical interventions encourage people to adjust their behavior in fast-changing environments in which exponential dynamics aggravate the conflict between the individual benefits of risk-taking and its social costs. Policy-makers need to know which interventions are most likely to promote socially advantageous behaviors. We designed a tool for initial evaluations of the effectiveness of large-scale interventions, the transmission game framework, which integrates simulations of outbreak dynamics into large-group experiments with monetary stakes. In two studies (n = 700), we found substantial differences in the effectiveness of five behavioral interventions. A simple injunctive-norms message proved most effective, followed by two interventions boosting participants’ ability to anticipate the consequences of risky behavior. Interventions featuring descriptive norms or concurrent risk information failed to reduce risk-taking.
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