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Can Charitable Appeals Identify and Exploit Belief Heterogeneity?

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  • Michalis Drouvelis
  • Benjamin M. Marx

Abstract

Charitable fundraisers frequently announce giving by others, and research shows that this can increase donations. However, this mechanism may not put information about peers to the most efficient use if it is costly to inform individuals who are indifferent to peer actions or causes some individuals to give less. We investigate whether a simple mechanism without incentives can predict heterogeneity in charitable responses to peer decisions. We elicit beliefs about donations in a baseline solicitation, and in subsequent solicitations we randomly assign information about others’ donations. We find that elicited beliefs are often logically inconsistent and that many subjects fail to update beliefs when treated. However, elicited beliefs can predict heterogeneous treatment effects if individuals are engaged and the information is salient.

Suggested Citation

  • Michalis Drouvelis & Benjamin M. Marx, 2021. "Can Charitable Appeals Identify and Exploit Belief Heterogeneity?," CESifo Working Paper Series 8855, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_8855
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    1. Tobias Cagala & Ulrich Glogowsky & Johannes Rincke & Anthony Strittmatter, 2021. "Optimal Targeting in Fundraising: A Machine-Learning Approach," Economics working papers 2021-08, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    2. Tobias Cagala & Ulrich Glogowsky & Johannes Rincke & Anthony Strittmatter, 2021. "Optimal Targeting in Fundraising: A Causal Machine-Learning Approach," Papers 2103.10251, arXiv.org, revised Sep 2021.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    charitable; donation; norm; social preferences; peer effects; experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values

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