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Altruism spillovers: Are behaviors in context-free experiments predictive of altruism toward a naturally occurring public good

  • Laury, Susan K.
  • Taylor, Laura O.

This paper addresses the external validity of experiments investigating the characteristics of altruism in the voluntary provision of public goods. We conduct two related experiments that allow us to examine whether individuals who act more altruistically in the context-free environment are also more likely to act altruistically toward a naturally-occurring public good. We find that laboratory behavior can be predictive of contributions toward naturally-occurring goods, but not in a uniform way. In fact, parametric measures of altruism do a poor job of predicting which subjects are most likely to contribute to a naturally-occurring public good.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 65 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 9-29

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:65:y:2008:i:1:p:9-29
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. Anderson, Simon P. & Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 1998. "A theoretical analysis of altruism and decision error in public goods games," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 297-323, November.
  2. Nick Hanley & Robert Wright & Vic Adamowicz, 1998. "Using Choice Experiments to Value the Environment," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(3), pages 413-428, April.
  3. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(1), pages 179-99, February.
  4. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Laury, Susan K., 2002. "Private costs and public benefits: unraveling the effects of altruism and noisy behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 255-276, February.
  5. Todd L. Cherry & Thomas Crocker & Jason F. Shogren, 2001. "Rationality Spillovers," Working Papers 01-02, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  6. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
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