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A robust test of warm glow giving and spiteful pleasure in a “real donation†experiment with and without earned endowments


  • Andrew Luccasen
  • Philip J. Grossman


Behavioral research provides evidence consistent with individuals enjoying kind acts (Crumpler and Grossman, 2008) and with individuals enjoying harmful acts (Abbink and Herrmann, 2011). This paper reports on an experiment designed to test if kind or harmful acts are an artefact of the experimental design. We investigate this question using a “real donation†laboratory experiment (Eckel and Grossman 1996) in which participants make a dictator allocation decision and are paired with an actual charity. We use a 2x3 design to vary the action set (only give to charity, or, give to or take from charity) and the source of the endowment (house money, earned endowment, or earned charity endowment). The experiment is designed so that a pure altruist has no incentive to donate or take. In the context of the “real donation†experiment, we observe very few participants taking money from charity. We find that giving persists when the endowment is earned, and when participants are given the option to take. The results are consistent with a warm glow motivation for giving.

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  • Andrew Luccasen & Philip J. Grossman, 2013. "A robust test of warm glow giving and spiteful pleasure in a “real donation†experiment with and without earned endowments," Monash Economics Working Papers 29-13, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2013-29

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    Cited by:

    1. Ferguson, Eamonn & Flynn, Niall, 2016. "Moral relativism as a disconnect between behavioural and experienced warm glow," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 163-175.

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    Warm glow; spiteful pleasure; charitable giving; lab experiment.;

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