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Reluctant donors and their reactions to social information

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  • David Klinowski

Abstract

This paper examines how image concerns affect the way giving behavior responds to social information. Subjects in the laboratory decide first whether they wish to donate part of their earnings to a charity, and then, conditional on opting in, decide how much to donate. They receive information on the size of a previous donation either before or after opting in, which allows one to examine the effect of the social information on the extensive and intensive margins of giving separately, and thus distinguish self-image concerns from potential alternative mechanisms. Information on a large previous donation caused subjects to opt out, but when shown only after opt-in, the same information caused subjects to increase donation amounts and did not lead to $0 donations. As further evidence of the influence of image concerns, the reaction to the social information was found to be correlated with a preference for quietly exiting a dictator game, and with scoring high on neuroticism. The results have implications for the inferences we draw about donor motives and welfare based on changes in giving in response to social information.

Suggested Citation

  • David Klinowski, 2021. "Reluctant donors and their reactions to social information," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 24(2), pages 515-535, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:24:y:2021:i:2:d:10.1007_s10683-020-09670-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-020-09670-y
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Charitable giving; Reluctant altruism; Social information; Moral wiggle room;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship

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