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Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially

  • Dan Ariely
  • Anat Bracha
  • Stephan Meier

This paper experimentally examines image motivation--the desire to be liked and well regarded by others--as a driver in prosocial behavior (doing good), and asks whether extrinsic monetary incentives (doing well) have a detrimental effect on prosocial behavior due to crowding out of image motivation. Using the unique property of image motivation--its dependency on visibility--we show that image is indeed an important part of the motivation to behave prosocially, and that extrinsic incentives crowd out image motivation. Therefore, monetary incentives are more likely to be counterproductive for public prosocial activities than for private ones. (JEL D64, L31, Z13)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 544-55

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:1:p:544-55
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.1.544
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  18. Carl Mellström & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Crowding Out in Blood Donation: Was Titmuss Right?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(4), pages 845-863, 06.
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