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Mixed Feelings: Theories and Evidence of Warm Glow and Altruism

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  • Konow, James

Abstract

This paper presents theoretical and empirical analyses of experiments that test competing theories of altruism, including pure altruism (a preference for the well-being of others), warm glow (a good feeling from giving) and impure altruism (a combination of pure altruism and warm glow). These theories produce different predictions regarding crowding out, i.e., the reduction in private donations due to public spending. Variations on dictator experiments involving both students and charities examine the incidence of crowding out and provide a new direct measure of the effect of giving on feelings. The results indicate that crowding out is incomplete, i.e., less than dollar for dollar. The evidence on warm glow suggests mixed feelings: giving may be associated with good or bad feelings, depending on the context. As a way to resolve apparent inconsistencies and reconcile the evidence on crowding out and feelings, this paper proposes a theory of conditional altruism, which extends previous models to incorporate social norms that arise in the workplace, marketplace and laboratory.

Suggested Citation

  • Konow, James, 2006. "Mixed Feelings: Theories and Evidence of Warm Glow and Altruism," MPRA Paper 2727, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:2727
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/2727/1/MPRA_paper_2727.pdf
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/18562/3/MPRA_paper_18562.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
    2. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anna Dreber & Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson & David Rand, 2013. "Do people care about social context? Framing effects in dictator games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(3), pages 349-371, September.
    2. Korenok, Oleg & Millner, Edward L. & Razzolini, Laura, 2013. "Impure altruism in dictators' giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 1-8.
    3. Nyborg, Karine, 2011. "I don't want to hear about it: Rational ignorance among duty-oriented consumers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 263-274, August.
    4. Brekke, Kjell Arne & Kipperberg, Gorm & Nyborg, Karine, 2009. "Reluctant Recyclers: Social Interaction in Responsibility Ascription," Memorandum 16/2007, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    5. Korenok Oleg & Edward L. Millner & Laura Razzolini, 2008. "Experimental Evidence on Other-Regarding Preferences: Dictators Give to Help the Less Fortunate," Working Papers 0807, VCU School of Business, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2009.
    6. Grace Lordan, 2011. "Older but Not Wiser- Smokers and Passive Smoking Belief," Discussion Papers Series 431, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Altruism; Warm-Glow; Happiness; Efficiency; Fairness; Justice; Need;

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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