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Does Competition Affect Giving?

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  • John Duffy
  • Tatiana Kornienko

Abstract

Charities often devise fund-raising strategies that exploit natural human competitiveness in combination with the desire for public recognition. We explore whether institutions promoting competition can affect altruistic giving - even when possibilities for public acclaim are minimal. In a controlled laboratory experiment based on a sequential "dictator game", we find that subjects tend to give more when placed in a generosity tournament, and tend to give less when placed in an earnings tournament - even if there is no award whatsoever for winning the tournament. Further we find that subjects' experimental behavior correlates with their responses to a post-experiment questionnaire, particularly questions addressing altruistic and rivalrous behavior. Based on this evidence, we argue that behavior in our experiment is driven, in part, by innate competitive motives.

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Paper provided by University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 275.

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Date of creation: Jul 2006
Date of revision: Apr 2009
Handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:275

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Cited by:
  1. Tran, Anh & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2012. "Rank as an inherent incentive: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 645-650.
  2. Bracha, Anat & Vesterlund, Lise, 2013. "How low can you go? Charity reporting when donations signal income and generosity," Working Papers 13-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  3. Anya Savikhin Samek & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2013. "Recognizing Contributors: An Experiment on Public Goods," Working Papers 13-34, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  4. Yan Chen & F. Maxwell Harper & Joseph Konstan & Sherry Xin Li, 2010. "Social Comparisons and Contributions to Online Communities: A Field Experiment on MovieLens," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1358-98, September.
  5. Robert Böhm & Tobias Regner, 2012. "Charitable Giving Among Females and Males: An Empirical Test of the Competitive Altruism Hypothesis," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-038, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  6. Samak, Anya & Sheremeta, Roman, 2013. "Visibility of Contributors and Cost of Information: An Experiment on Public Goods," MPRA Paper 46779, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Xiaofei (Sophia) Pan & Daniel Houser, 2011. "Social Approval, Competition and Cooperation," Working Papers 1028, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  8. Riyanto, Yohanes E. & Zhang, Jianlin, 2013. "The impact of social comparison of ability on pro-social behaviour," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 37-46.
  9. Brown, Jason L. & Fisher, Joseph G. & Sooy, Matthew & Sprinkle, Geoffrey B., 2014. "The effect of rankings on honesty in budget reporting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 237-246.
  10. Nisvan Erkal & Lata Gangadharan & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2011. "Relative Earnings and Giving in a Real-Effort Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3330-48, December.
  11. Xiaofei (Sophia) Pan & Daniel Houser, 2011. "Competition for Trophies Triggers Male Generosity," Working Papers 1022, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.

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