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Do people avoid opportunities to donate? A natural field experiment on recycling and charitable giving

Author

Listed:
  • Knutsson, Mikael

    (Dept of Psychology, University of Gothenburg)

  • Martinsson, Peter

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Wollbrant, Conny

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

Abstract

We use a natural field experiment to investigate the hypothesis that generosity is partly involuntary, by examining whether individuals tend to avoid opportunities to act generously. In Sweden, new recycling machines for bottles and cans with an option of donating the returned deposit to charity were gradually introduced in one of the largest store chains. We find a substantial decline in recycling the month these new machines were introduced and a further decline in the following months. These results indicate that individuals avoid opportunities to act generously and corroborate findings from both lab and field studies supporting the claim that generous behavior is partly involuntary

Suggested Citation

  • Knutsson, Mikael & Martinsson, Peter & Wollbrant, Conny, 2012. "Do people avoid opportunities to donate? A natural field experiment on recycling and charitable giving," Working Papers in Economics 542, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0542
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Stefano DellaVigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier, 2012. "Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 1-56.
    2. James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2009. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, pages 1607-1636.
    3. Andreoni, James & Rao, Justin M., 2011. "The power of asking: How communication affects selfishness, empathy, and altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 513-520.
    4. Battigalli, Pierpaolo & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2009. "Dynamic psychological games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, pages 1-35.
    5. Edward P. Lazear & Ulrike Malmendier & Roberto A. Weber, 2012. "Sorting in Experiments with Application to Social Preferences," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, pages 136-163.
    6. Juan Camilo Cardenas & Jeffrey Carpenter, 2008. "Behavioural Development Economics: Lessons from Field Labs in the Developing World," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(3), pages 311-338.
    7. repec:feb:framed:0087 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 653-660.
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    Cited by:

    1. Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen, 2016. "Online fundraising, self-image, and the long-term impact of ask avoidance," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145535, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Mette Trier Damgaard & Christiana Gravert, 2016. "The hidden costs of nudging: Experimental evidence from reminders in fundraising," Economics Working Papers 2016-03, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    3. Ekström, Mathias, 2017. "Seasonal Social Preferences," Working Paper Series 1159, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    4. Ekström, Mathias, 2017. "Seasonal Social Preferences," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 4/2017, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Generosity; Donations; Natural field experiment; Avoidance behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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