IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Disentangling the Sources of Pro-social Behavior in the Workplace: A Field Experiment

  • Mirco Tonin
  • Michael Vlassopoulos

This paper presents evidence from a field experiment, which aims to identify the two sources of workers’ pro-social motivation that have been considered in the literature: action-oriented altruism and output-oriented altruism. To this end we employ an experimental design that first measures the level of effort exerted by student workers on a data entry task in an environment that elicits purely selfish behavior and we compare it to effort exerted in an environment that also induces action-oriented altruism. We then compare the latter to effort exerted in an environment where both types of altruistic preferences are elicited. We find that action-oriented altruism accounts for a significant increase in effort, while there is no additional impact due to output-oriented altruism. We also find significant gender-related differences in the treatment effect: women are very responsive to the treatment condition eliciting action-oriented altruism, while men’s behavior is not affected by any of the treatments.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2757.

in new window

Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2757
Contact details of provider: Postal: Poschingerstrasse 5, 81679 Munich
Phone: +49 (89) 9224-0
Fax: +49 (89) 985369
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Andreoni,J. & Vesterlund,L., 1998. "Which is the fair sex? : Gender differences in altruism," Working papers 10, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  2. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2003. "Competition and incentives with motivated agents," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2202, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
  4. Gunderson, Morley, 1989. "Male-Female Wage Differentials and Policy Responses," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(1), pages 46-72, March.
  5. Abdolkarim Sadrieh & Bettina Rockenbach & Heike Hennig-Schmidt, 2005. "In search of worker's real effort reciprocity - a field and a laboratory experiment," Artefactual Field Experiments 00065, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. John List & Uri Gneezy, 2006. "Putting behavioral economics to work: Testing for gift exchange in labor markets using field experiments," Natural Field Experiments 00259, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert, 2007. "Signaling and screening of workers' motivation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 605-624, April.
  8. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  9. Edward Lazear & Ulrike Malmendier & Roberto Weber, 2006. "Sorting, Prices, and Social Preferences," NBER Working Papers 12041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. repec:oup:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:1:p:293-312 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2004. "Incentives and Workers' Motivation in the Public Sector," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-060/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  12. Besley, Timothy & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2007. "Retailing public goods: The economics of corporate social responsibility," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(9), pages 1645-1663, September.
  13. Gregg, Paul & Grout, Paul A. & Ratcliffe, Anita & Smith, Sarah & Windmeijer, Frank, 2011. "How important is pro-social behaviour in the delivery of public services?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 758-766, August.
  14. Stefano DellaVigna, 2009. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 315-72, June.
  15. Glazer, Amihai, 2004. "Motivating devoted workers," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 427-440, March.
  16. Eckel, Catherine C & Grossman, Philip J, 1998. "Are Women Less Selfish Than Men? Evidence from Dictator Experiments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 726-35, May.
  17. Crumpler, Heidi & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "An experimental test of warm glow giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1011-1021, June.
  18. Francois, Patrick, 2000. "'Public service motivation' as an argument for government provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 275-299, November.
  19. Kevin Murdock, 2002. "Intrinsic Motivation and Optimal Incentive Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 650-671, Winter.
  20. Carl Mellström & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Crowding Out in Blood Donation: Was Titmuss Right?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(4), pages 845-863, 06.
  21. repec:oup:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:3:p:917-962 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2006. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 39-58, January.
  23. Avinash Dixit, 2002. "# Incentives and Organizations in the Public Sector: An Interpretative Review," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(4), pages 696-727.
  24. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2757. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Julio Saavedra)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.