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Social Image Concerns and Pro-Social Behavior

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  • Lacetera, Nicola

    () (University of Toronto)

  • Macis, Mario

    () (Johns Hopkins University)

Abstract

Using longitudinal data on the entire population of blood donors in an Italian town, we examine how donors respond to an award scheme which rewards them with “medals” when they reach certain donation quotas. Our results indicate that donors significantly increase the frequency of their donations immediately before reaching the thresholds for which the rewards are given, but only if the prizes are publicly announced in the local newspaper and awarded in a public ceremony. The results are robust to several specifications, sample definitions, and controls for observable and unobservable heterogeneity. Our findings are consistent with social image concerns being a primary motivator of pro-social behavior, and indicate that symbolic prizes are most effective as motivators when they are awarded publicly. Because we do not detect a reduction in donation frequency after the quotas are reached, this incentive based on social prestige leads to a net increase in the frequency of donations.

Suggested Citation

  • Lacetera, Nicola & Macis, Mario, 2008. "Social Image Concerns and Pro-Social Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 3771, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3771
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jeong, Hyun Ju & Paek, Hye-Jin & Lee, Mira, 2013. "Corporate social responsibility effects on social network sites," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(10), pages 1889-1895.
    2. Roland Benabou & Jean Tirole, 2010. "Individual and Corporate Social Responsibility," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 1-19, January.
    3. Lacetera, Nicola & Macis, Mario, 2010. "Do all material incentives for pro-social activities backfire? The response to cash and non-cash incentives for blood donations," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 738-748, August.
    4. Johannesson Magnus & Östling Robert & Ranehill Eva, 2010. "The Effect of Competition on Physical Activity: A Randomized Trial," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-31, September.
    5. Lan Shi, 2011. "Monetary Rewards, Image Concern, and Intrinsic Motivation: Evidence from a Survey on Blood Donation," Working Papers UWEC-2010-07-R, University of Washington, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2011.
    6. Joan Costa-Font & Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Steven T. Yen, 2013. "Not All Incentives Wash Out the Warm Glow: The Case of Blood Donation Revisited," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 529-551, November.
    7. Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2013. "Experimental evidence of self-image concerns as motivation for giving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 19-27.
    8. Juan M. Cabasés Hita & María Errea Rodríguez, 2010. "Attitudes towards blood and living organ donations," Documentos de Trabajo - Lan Gaiak Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra 1004, Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra.
    9. Lacetera, Nicola & Macis, Mario & Slonim, Robert, 2009. "Will There Be Blood? Incentives and Substitution Effects in Pro-social Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 4567, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Behnk, Sascha & Barreda-Tarrazona, Iván & García-Gallego, Aurora, 2014. "The role of ex post transparency in information transmission—An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 45-64.
    11. Nicola Lacetera & Mario Macis & Angelo Mele, 2012. "Viral altruism? A natural field experiment of social contagion in on-line networks," Working Papers 12-16, NET Institute.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    incentives; awards; public good provision; pro-social behavior; public health; social prestige;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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