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Sign Me Up! A Model and Field Experiment on Volunteering

  • Erte Xiao

    ()

    (Department of Social and Decision Sciences Carnegie Mellon University)

  • Daniel Houser

    ()

    (Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science and Department of Economics, George Mason University)

We develop and model a two-stage incentivized intervention to promote pro-sociality. In the first stage, participants are incentivized to complete a compound task consisting of a targeted pro-social activity and a complement activity. In the second stage, participants are incentivized to complete repeatedly only the complement activity. The model predicts that, conditional on compliance with the first-stage compound task, intrinsic interest in the target activity is promoted regardless of compliance with the second-stage task. To test this we design and implement a field experiment on volunteering. The results are consistent with our model. Moreover, in the one year subsequent to our experiment, those who participated in our compound-task mechanism reported volunteering systematically more than those who participated in alternative mechanisms we investigated. Our approach has useful implications for promoting positive individual and social outcomes in many behavioral domains. Length: 41

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Paper provided by George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science in its series Working Papers with number 1043.

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Date of creation: Jan 2014
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Handle: RePEc:gms:wpaper:1043
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  1. Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sonmez & M. Utku Unver, 2004. "Pairwise Kidney Exchange," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000350, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Julian Conrads & Bernd Irlenbusch & Tommaso Reggiani & Rainer Michael Rilke & Dirk Sliwka, 2013. "How to Hire Helpers? Evidence From a Field Experiment," Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series 04-03, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 2002. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," CESifo Working Paper Series 714, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. S. Bowles & S. Polania-Reyes., 2013. "Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Substitutes or Complements?," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
  5. Armin Falk & Florian Zimmermann, 2013. "A Taste for Consistency and Survey Response Behavior," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 59(1), pages 181-193, March.
  6. Jian Li & Erte Xiao & Daniel Houser & P. Read Montague, 2009. "Neural Responses to Sanction Threats in Two-Party Economic Exchange," Working Papers 1012, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  7. Nicola Lacetera & Mario Macis & Robert Slonim, 2012. "Will There Be Blood? Incentives and Displacement Effects in Pro-social Behavior," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 186-223, February.
  8. Omar Al-Ubaydli & Min Lee, 2011. "Can Tailored Communications Motivate Environmental Volunteers? A Natural Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 323-28, May.
  9. Roth, Alvin & Ünver, M. Utku & Sönmez, Tayfun, 2004. "Kidney Exchange," Scholarly Articles 2580565, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Heather Royer & Mark F. Stehr & Justin R. Sydnor, 2012. "Incentives, Commitments and Habit Formation in Exercise: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Workers at a Fortune-500 Company," NBER Working Papers 18580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Jonathan Meer, 2013. "The Habit Of Giving," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(4), pages 2002-2017, October.
  12. Uri Gneezy & Stephan Meier & Pedro Rey-Biel, 2011. "When and Why Incentives (Don't) Work to Modify Behavior," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 191-210, Fall.
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