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Do people donate more when they perceive a single beneficiary whom they know? A field experimental test of the identifiability effect

  • Al-Ubaydli, Omar
  • Yeomans, Mike

According to the identifiability effect, people will donate more to a single beneficiary rather than to many beneficiaries, holding constant what the donations are actually used for. We test the identifiability effect for two novel subject pools (the suppliers and beneficiaries of volunteer labor). We also test a refinement of the identifiability effect where we vary whether or not the single beneficiary is personally known to the solicitees. While the behavior of volunteers is consistent with the identifiability effect, we find that the identifiability effect is reversed for beneficiaries of volunteer labor. Moreover, we find that making the single beneficiary personally known to the solicitees lowers donations by a statistically insignificant amount, suggesting that it does not enhance donations.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/55382/1/MPRA_paper_55382.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 55382.

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Date of creation: 15 Apr 2014
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:55382
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  1. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  4. Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5899, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  5. Omar Al-Ubaydli & Min Lee, 2011. "Can Tailored Communications Motivate Environmental Volunteers? A Natural Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 323-28, May.
  6. Duncan, Brian, 1999. "Modeling charitable contributions of time and money," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 213-242, May.
  7. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  8. Deborah A. Small & Uri Simonsohn, 2008. "Friends of Victims: Personal Experience and Prosocial Behavior," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 532-542, December.
  9. Burnham, Terence C., 2003. "Engineering altruism: a theoretical and experimental investigation of anonymity and gift giving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 133-144, January.
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