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The impact of a surprise donation ask

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  • Exley, Christine L.
  • Petrie, Ragan

Abstract

Individuals frequently exploit “flexibility” built into decision environments to give less. They use uncertainty to justify options benefiting themselves over others, they avoid information that may encourage them to give, and they avoid the ask itself. In this paper, we examine whether a reluctance to give may arise even when such explicit flexibility is absent. We investigate whether merely alerting individuals to an upcoming prosocial ask — that is neither avoided nor occurs in an environment with flexibility — results in reduced prosocial behavior. That is, we investigate whether individuals use time to quickly find ways to decline prosocial asks and thus whether surprising individuals with prosocial asks increases compliance. Results from a field study and complementary online studies provide a clear answer: yes.

Suggested Citation

  • Exley, Christine L. & Petrie, Ragan, 2018. "The impact of a surprise donation ask," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 152-167.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:158:y:2018:i:c:p:152-167
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2017.12.015
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen, 2016. "Online fundraising, self-image, and the long-term impact of ask avoidance," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145535, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Björn Bartling & Yagiz Özdemir, 2017. "The Limits to Moral Erosion in Markets: Social Norms and the Replacement Excuse," CESifo Working Paper Series 6696, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. James Andreoni & Marta Serra-Garcia, 2019. "The Pledging Puzzle: How Can Revocable Promises Increase Charitable Giving," CESifo Working Paper Series 7965, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Christine L. Exley & Judd B. Kessler, 2017. "Motivated Errors," Harvard Business School Working Papers 18-017, Harvard Business School, revised May 2018.
    5. Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen, 2016. "Online fundraising, self-deception, and the long-term impact of ask avoidance," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2016-306, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    6. Sasaki, Shusaku, 2019. "Majority size and conformity behavior in charitable giving: Field evidence from a donation-based crowdfunding platform in Japan," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 36-51.
    7. Oliver P. Hauser & Francesca Gino & Michael I. Norton, 2018. "Budging beliefs, nudging behaviour," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 17(1), pages 15-26, November.
    8. Björn Bartling & Yagiz Özdemir, 2017. "The Limits to Moral Erosion in Markets: Social Norms and the Replacement Excuse," CESifo Working Paper Series 6696, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Charitable giving; Prosocial behavior; Self-serving biases; Excuses;

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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