IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/aecrev/v96y2006i5p1652-1678.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Incentives and Prosocial Behavior

Author

Listed:
  • Jean Tirole
  • Roland Bénabou

Abstract

We develop a theory of prosocial behavior that combines heterogeneity in individual altruism and greed with concerns for social reputation or self-respect. Rewards or punishments (whether material or image-related) create doubt about the true motive for which good deeds are performed, and this ?overjustification effect? can induce a partial or even net crowding out of prosocial behavior by extrinsic incentives. We also identify the settings that are conducive to multiple social norms and, more generally, those that make individual actions complements or substitutes, which we show depends on whether stigma or honor is (endogenously) the dominant reputational concern. Finally, we analyze the socially optimal level of incentives and how monopolistic or competitive sponsors depart from it. Sponsor competition is shown to potentially reduce social welfare. (JEL D11, D64, D82, Z13)

Suggested Citation

  • Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1652-1678, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:5:p:1652-1678
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.96.5.1652
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.96.5.1652
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221.
    2. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2006. "Honestly, why are you driving a BMW?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 129-146, June.
    3. Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1995. "Design Innovation and Fashion Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 771-792, September.
    4. Glazer, Amihai & Konrad, Kai A, 1996. "A Signaling Explanation for Charity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1019-1028, September.
    5. Juan D. Carrillo & Thomas Mariotti, 2000. "Strategic Ignorance as a Self-Disciplining Device," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 529-544.
    6. Freeman, Richard B, 1997. "Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 140-166, January.
    7. Armin Falk & Michael Kosfeld, "undated". "Distrust - The Hidden Cost of Control," IEW - Working Papers 193, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    8. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-1458, December.
    9. Harbaugh, William T., 1998. "What do donations buy?: A model of philanthropy based on prestige and warm glow," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 269-284, February.
    10. Eric Alden Smith & Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Costly Signaling and Cooperation," Working Papers 00-12-071, Santa Fe Institute.
    11. Corneo, Giacomo G., 1997. "The theory of the open shop trade union reconsidered," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 71-84, March.
    12. Seabright, Paul, 2004. "Continuous Preferences Can Cause Discontinuous Choices: An Application to the Impact of Incentives on Altruism," CEPR Discussion Papers 4322, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Gottlieb, Daniel & Moreira, Humberto Ataíde & Araújo, Aloísio Pessoa de, 2004. "A model of mixed signals with applications to countersignaling an the GED," FGV EPGE Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 553, EPGE Brazilian School of Economics and Finance - FGV EPGE (Brazil).
    14. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-319, June.
    15. Anton Suvorov & Jeroen van de Ven, 2006. "Discretionary Bonuses as a Feedback Mechanism," Working Papers w0088, New Economic School (NES).
    16. Ernst Fehr & Alexander Klein & Klaus M. Schmidt, "undated". "Fairness, Incentives and Contractual Incompleteness," IEW - Working Papers 072, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    17. David Austen-Smith & Roland G. Fryer, 2005. "An Economic Analysis of "Acting White"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 551-583.
    18. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    19. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-877, October.
    20. Bruno S. Frey & Reto Jegen, 2000. "Motivation Crowding Theory: A Survey of Empirical Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 245, CESifo.
    21. David Austen-Smith & Ronald G. Fryer, 2005. "An Economic Analysis of 'Acting White'," Discussion Papers 1399, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    22. Eli Berman, 2000. "Sect, Subsidy, and Sacrifice: An Economist's View of Ultra-Orthodox Jews," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 905-953.
    23. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, "undated". "Do Incentive Contracts Crowd out Voluntary Cooperation?," IEW - Working Papers 034, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    24. Potters, J.J.M. & Sefton, M. & Vesterlund, L., 2001. "Why Announce Leadership Contributions? An Experimental Study of the Signaling and Reciprocity Hypotheses," Other publications TiSEM bf38dd2e-5f10-46ae-bb21-7, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    25. Murnighan, J. Keith & Oesch, John M. & Pillutla, Madan, 2001. "Player Types and Self-Impression Management in Dictatorship Games: Two Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 388-414, November.
    26. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L., 1992. "Valuing public goods: The purchase of moral satisfaction," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 57-70, January.
    27. Bagwell, Laurie Simon & Bernheim, B Douglas, 1996. "Veblen Effects in a Theory of Conspicuous Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 349-373, June.
    28. Janssen, Maarten C. W. & Mendys-Kamphorst, Ewa, 2004. "The price of a price: on the crowding out and in of social norms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 377-395, November.
    29. Bruno S. Frey & Reto Jegen, 2001. "Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
    30. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. repec:pri:wwseco:dp230 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Dirk Sliwka, 2007. "Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 999-1012, June.
    3. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Svedsäter, Henrik, 2012. "Self-image and valuation of moral goods: Stated versus actual willingness to pay," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 879-891.
    4. Friedrichsen, Jana, 2018. "Signals Sell: Product Lines when Consumers Differ Both in Taste for Quality and Image Concern," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 70, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    5. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Svedsäter, Henrik, 2011. "Self-Image and Valuation of Moral Goods: Stated versus Real Willingness to Pay," Working Papers in Economics 484, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    6. Friedrichsen, Jana, 2016. "Signals sell: Designing a product line when consumers have social image concerns," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2016-202, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    7. Jingping Li & Yohanes E. Riyanto, 2017. "Category Reporting In Charitable Giving: An Experimental Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(1), pages 397-408, January.
    8. Friedrichsen, Jana, 2013. "Image concerns and the provision of quality," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2013-211, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    9. Hsiaw, Alice, 2014. "Learning tastes through social interaction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PA), pages 64-85.
    10. Akerlof, Robert, 2017. "Value Formation: The Role of Esteem," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 1-19.
    11. Dickinson, David & Villeval, Marie-Claire, 2008. "Does monitoring decrease work effort?: The complementarity between agency and crowding-out theories," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 56-76, May.
    12. Dean Karlan & John A. List, 2007. "Does Price Matter in Charitable Giving? Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1774-1793, December.
    13. Elias Asproudis, 2011. "Revisiting environmental groups and members’ behaviour: budget, size and (im)pure altruism," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 13(2), pages 139-156, June.
    14. Yohanes E. Riyanto & Jianlin Zhang, 2016. "Putting a price tag on others’ perceptions of us," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(2), pages 480-499, June.
    15. Mitesh Kataria & Tobias Regner, 2015. "Honestly, why are you donating money to charity? An experimental study about self-awareness in status-seeking behavior," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 79(3), pages 493-515, November.
    16. Jen Shang & Rachel Croson, 2009. "A Field Experiment in Charitable Contribution: The Impact of Social Information on the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1422-1439, October.
    17. Dimant, Eugen, 2019. "Contagion of pro- and anti-social behavior among peers and the role of social proximity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 66-88.
    18. Frank Scott & Aaron Yelowitz, 2010. "Pricing Anomalies In The Market For Diamonds: Evidence Of Conformist Behavior," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(2), pages 353-368, April.
    19. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2008. "Anonymity, reciprocity, and conformity: Evidence from voluntary contributions to a national park in Costa Rica," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1047-1060, June.
    20. Fehr, Ernst & Falk, Armin, 2002. "Psychological foundations of incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 687-724, May.
    21. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2009. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 544-555, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:5:p:1652-1678. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Michael P. Albert (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.