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Does Competition Affect Giving?

  • John Duffy
  • Tatiana Kornienko

Charities often devise fund-raising strategies that exploit natural human competitiveness in combination with the desire for public recognition. We explore whether institutions promoting competition can affect altruistic giving - even when possibilities for public acclaim are minimal. In a controlled laboratory experiment based on a sequential "dictator game", we find that subjects tend to give more when placed in a generosity tournament, and tend to give less when placed in an earnings tournament - even if there is no award whatsoever for winning the tournament. Further we find that subjects' experimental behavior correlates with their responses to a post-experiment questionnaire, particularly questions addressing altruistic and rivalrous behavior. Based on this evidence, we argue that behavior in our experiment is driven, in part, by innate competitive motives.

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Paper provided by University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 275.

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Date of creation: Jul 2006
Date of revision: Apr 2009
Handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:275
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