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Ex-ante commitments to “give if you win” exceed donations after a win

Ex-ante commitments to “give if you win” exceed donations after a win
Ex-ante commitments to “give if you win” exceed donations after a win
Should fundraisers ask a banker to donate “if he earns a bonus” or wait and ask after the bonus is known? Standard EU theory predicts that these approaches are equivalent; loss-aversion and signaling models predict a larger commitment before the bonus is known; theories of affect predict the reverse. In five experiments incorporating lab and field elements (N=1363), we solicited charitable donations from small lottery winnings, varying the conditionality of donations between participants. Pooling across experiments, participants are 23% more likely to commit to donate from the winning income and commit 25% more when asked before the lottery's outcome is determined—relative to those asked to donate after they learn they have won. These differences are strongly statistically significant. This represents the first evidence on how pro-social behavior extends to conditional commitments over uncertain income, with implications for charitable fundraising, giving pledges, and experimental methodology.
109-127
Kellner, Christian
4e2ed069-76c7-4084-a353-f56ee03e2094
Reinstein, David
3650945d-1520-4c56-9ce7-a19f6c01133f
Riener, Gerhard
05c11453-4695-40fe-a5b9-45152b1f3754
Kellner, Christian
4e2ed069-76c7-4084-a353-f56ee03e2094
Reinstein, David
3650945d-1520-4c56-9ce7-a19f6c01133f
Riener, Gerhard
05c11453-4695-40fe-a5b9-45152b1f3754

Kellner, Christian, Reinstein, David and Riener, Gerhard (2019) Ex-ante commitments to “give if you win” exceed donations after a win. Journal of Public Economics, 169, 109-127. (doi:10.1016/j.jpubeco.2018.10.009).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Should fundraisers ask a banker to donate “if he earns a bonus” or wait and ask after the bonus is known? Standard EU theory predicts that these approaches are equivalent; loss-aversion and signaling models predict a larger commitment before the bonus is known; theories of affect predict the reverse. In five experiments incorporating lab and field elements (N=1363), we solicited charitable donations from small lottery winnings, varying the conditionality of donations between participants. Pooling across experiments, participants are 23% more likely to commit to donate from the winning income and commit 25% more when asked before the lottery's outcome is determined—relative to those asked to donate after they learn they have won. These differences are strongly statistically significant. This represents the first evidence on how pro-social behavior extends to conditional commitments over uncertain income, with implications for charitable fundraising, giving pledges, and experimental methodology.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 26 October 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 7 December 2018
Published date: January 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 426791
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/426791
PURE UUID: e7b0a5b4-c26d-46cc-a2ec-58fcebe2038d
ORCID for Christian Kellner: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3855-5418

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 12 Dec 2018 17:30
Last modified: 20 Jul 2019 00:33

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