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Sign Me Up! A Model and Field Experiment on Volunteering

Author

Listed:
  • 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)

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

  • Erte Xiao & Daniel Houser, 2014. "Sign Me Up! A Model and Field Experiment on Volunteering," Working Papers 1043, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:gms:wpaper:1043
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    File URL: http://www.gmu.edu/schools/chss/economics/icesworkingpapers.gmu.edu/pdf/1043.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Roth, Alvin E. & Sonmez, Tayfun & Utku Unver, M., 2005. "Pairwise kidney exchange," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 151-188, December.
    3. Fehr, Ernst & Falk, Armin, 2002. "Psychological foundations of incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 687-724, May.
    4. Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez & M. Utku Ünver, 2004. "Kidney Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 457-488.
    5. 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, pages 186-223.
    6. Julian Conrads & Bernd Irlenbusch & Tommaso Reggiani & Rainer Michael Rilke & Dirk Sliwka, 2016. "How to hire helpers? Evidence from a field experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(3), pages 577-594, September.
    7. 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, pages 191-210.
    8. Armin Falk & Florian Zimmermann, 2013. "A Taste for Consistency and Survey Response Behavior," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 59(1), pages 181-193, March.
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    10. Jonathan Meer, 2013. "The Habit Of Giving," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(4), pages 2002-2017, October.
    11. S. Bowles & S. Polania-Reyes., 2013. "Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Substitutes or Complements?," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
    12. Omar Al-Ubaydli & Min Lee, 2011. "Can Tailored Communications Motivate Environmental Volunteers? A Natural Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 323-328.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Heinz, Matthias & Schumacher, Heiner, 2015. "Signaling Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 10942, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Heinz, Matthias & Schumacher, Heiner, 2015. "Signaling cooperation," SAFE Working Paper Series 120, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.
    3. Heinz, Matthias & Schumacher, Heiner, 2016. "Signaling Cooperation," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145648, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    volunteering; incentives; pro-social attitudes; cognitive dissonance; field experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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