A robust test of warm glow giving and spiteful pleasure in a â€œreal donationâ€ experiment with and without earned endowments
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 â€œreal donationâ€ 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 â€œreal donationâ€ 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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