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The differential impact of social norms cues on charitable contributions


  • Krupka, Erin L.
  • Croson, Rachel T.A.


Using a field experiment, we test the channel by which normative cues affect the decision process to donate to a public library. Our treatments consist of a reciprocity cue or an eyespots cue that is placed on the solicitation materials mailed out to potential donors during a public library fundraising drive. The data are consistent with a two stage decision process by which individuals first decide whether to make a donation and then decide how much to donate. We show that both cues significantly affect donation behavior by enhancing the intensity of the behavior while only one cue enhances the likelihood of engaging in the behavior. These results imply that what might look like a subtle or even fickle effect of normative cues on behavior is an economically sizable effect when we take into account what aspect of the decision process is affected by the cue.

Suggested Citation

  • Krupka, Erin L. & Croson, Rachel T.A., 2016. "The differential impact of social norms cues on charitable contributions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 149-158.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:128:y:2016:i:c:p:149-158
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2016.05.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Cristina Bicchieri & Eugen Dimant & Simon Gaechter & Daniele Nosenzo, 2020. "Observability, Social Proximity, and the Erosion of Norm Compliance," CESifo Working Paper Series 8212, CESifo.
    2. Feldhaus, Christoph & Sobotta, Tassilo & Werner, Peter, 2018. "Reminders for voluntary payments might backfire—Evidence from a field study," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 133-136.
    3. Elisa Hofmann & Michael E. Fiagbenu & Asri Özgümüs & Amir M. Tahamtan & Tobias Regner, 2018. "My Peers are Watching me - Audience and Peer Effects in a Pay-What-You-Want Context," Jena Economic Research Papers 2018-019, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    4. Bicchieri, Cristina & Dimant, Eugen & Gächter, Simon & Nosenzo, Daniele, 2020. "Social Proximity and the Erosion of Norm Compliance," IZA Discussion Papers 13864, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Elisa Hofmann, 2020. "The power of close relationships and audiences: Interpersonal closeness and payment observability as determinants of voluntary payments," Jena Economic Research Papers 2020-016, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    6. Michalis Drouvelis & Adam Isen & Benjamin M. Marx, 2019. "The Bonus-Income Donation Norm," CESifo Working Paper Series 7961, CESifo.

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    More about this item


    Decision making; Social norms; Field experiment; Public good;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers


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