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Rewarding altruism? : a natural field experiment

Author: Nicola Lacetera; Mario Macis; Robert Slonim; National Bureau of Economic Research.
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, ©2011.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 17636.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
We present evidence from a natural field experiment involving nearly 100,000 individuals on the effects of offering economic incentives for blood donations. Subjects who were offered economic rewards to donate blood were more likely to donate, and more so the higher the value of the rewards. They were also more likely to attract others to donate, spatially alter the location of their donations towards the drives  Read more...
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Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Nicola Lacetera; Mario Macis; Robert Slonim; National Bureau of Economic Research.
OCLC Number: 767585875
Notes: Title from http://www.nber.org/papers/17636 viewed Dec. 6, 2011.
"December 2011."
Description: 1 online resource (50 pages) : illustrations.
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 17636.
Responsibility: Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis, Robert Slonim.

Abstract:

We present evidence from a natural field experiment involving nearly 100,000 individuals on the effects of offering economic incentives for blood donations. Subjects who were offered economic rewards to donate blood were more likely to donate, and more so the higher the value of the rewards. They were also more likely to attract others to donate, spatially alter the location of their donations towards the drives offering rewards, and modify their temporal donation schedule leading to a short-term reduction in donations immediately after the reward offer was removed. Although offering economic incentives, combining all of these effects, positively and significantly increased donations, ignoring individuals who took additional actions beyond donating to get others to donate would have led to an under-estimate of the total effect, whereas ignoring the spatial effect would have led to an over-estimate of the total effect. We also find that individuals who received a reward by surprise were less likely to donate after the intervention than subjects who received no reward, suggesting that for some individuals a surprise reward adversely affected their intrinsic motivations. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding pro-social behavior.

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