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Voluntary payments, privacy and social pressure on the internet: A natural field experiment

  • Regner, Tobias
  • Riener, Gerhard

The emergence of Pay-What-You-Want (PWYW) business models as a successful alternative to conventional uniform pricing brings up new questions related to the task of pricing. We investigate the effect of a reduction of privacy on consumers' purchase decisions (whether to buy, and if so how much to pay) in a natural experiment at an online music store with PWYW-like pricing. Our study extends the empirical evidence of the reduced anonymity effect, previously established for donation or public goods contexts, to a consumption environment. We find that revealing the name of the customer led to slightly higher payments, while it drastically reduced the number of customers purchasing. Overall, the regime led to a revenue loss of 15%. The experiment suggests that even low levels of social pressure without face to face interaction on customers leads to a reduction of welfare.

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Paper provided by Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) in its series DICE Discussion Papers with number 82.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:dicedp:82
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  1. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2008. "Anonymity, reciprocity, and conformity: Evidence from voluntary contributions to a national park in Costa Rica," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1047-1060, June.
  2. repec:feb:framed:0087 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 2006. "Piracy prevention and the pricing of information goods," CORE Discussion Papers 2006018, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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  7. George J. Stigler, 1980. "An Introduction to Privacy in Economics and Politics," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 10, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  8. Hal R. Varian, 2005. "Copying and Copyright," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 121-138, Spring.
  9. Stefano DellaVigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier, 2009. "Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving," NBER Working Papers 15629, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2008. "What's in a name? Anonymity and social distance in dictator and ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-35, October.
  11. 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.
  12. Imbens, Guido W. & Kalyanaraman, Karthik, 2009. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," IZA Discussion Papers 3995, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Domon, Koji & Yamazaki, Naoto, 2004. "Unauthorized file-sharing and the pricing of digital content," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 179-184, November.
  14. Vincent Conitzer & Curtis R. Taylor & Liad Wagman, 2012. "Hide and Seek: Costly Consumer Privacy in a Market with Repeat Purchases," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(2), pages 277-292, March.
  15. Riener, Gerhard & Traxler, Christian, 2012. "Norms, moods, and free lunch: Longitudinal evidence on payments from a Pay-What-You-Want restaurant," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 476-483.
  16. Tobias Regner & Javier A. Barria, 2007. "Do Consumers Pay Voluntarily? The Case of Online Music," Jena Economic Research Papers 2007-011, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  17. Soetevent, Adriaan R., 2003. "Anonymity in giving in a natural context : an economic field experiment in thirty churches," CCSO Working Papers 200308, University of Groningen, CCSO Centre for Economic Research.
  18. Tobias Regner, 2010. "Why Consumers Pay Voluntarily: Evidence from Online Music," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-081, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics, revised 10 Dec 2014.
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