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Does competition affect giving?

  • Duffy, John
  • Kornienko, Tatiana

Charities often devise fund-raising strategies that exploit natural human competitiveness in combination with the desire for public recognition. We explore whether institutions promoting competition can affect altruistic giving - even when possibilities for public acclaim are minimal. In a controlled laboratory experiment based on a sequential "dictator game" , we find that subjects tend to give more when placed in a generosity tournament, and tend to give less when placed in an earnings tournament - even if there is no award whatsoever for winning the tournament. Further we find that subjects' experimental behavior correlates with their responses to a post-experiment questionnaire, particularly questions addressing altruistic and rivalrous behavior. Based on this evidence, we argue that behavior in our experiment is driven, in part, by innate competitive motives.

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

Volume (Year): 74 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (May)
Pages: 82-103

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:74:y:2010:i:1-2:p:82-103
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