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

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  • Dan Ariely
  • Anat Bracha
  • Stephan Meier

Abstract

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)

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • 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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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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