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Sign Me Up! A Model and Field Experiment on Volunteering

Erte Xiao () and Daniel Houser ()

No 1043, Working Papers from George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science

Abstract: We develop and model a two-stage incentivized intervention to promote pro-sociality. In the first stage, participants are incentivized to complete a compound task consisting of a targeted pro-social activity and a complement activity. In the second stage, participants are incentivized to complete repeatedly only the complement activity. The model predicts that, conditional on compliance with the first-stage compound task, intrinsic interest in the target activity is promoted regardless of compliance with the second-stage task. To test this we design and implement a field experiment on volunteering. The results are consistent with our model. Moreover, in the one year subsequent to our experiment, those who participated in our compound-task mechanism reported volunteering systematically more than those who participated in alternative mechanisms we investigated. Our approach has useful implications for promoting positive individual and social outcomes in many behavioral domains. Length: 41

Keywords: volunteering; incentives; pro-social attitudes; cognitive dissonance; field experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C93 D02 D03 D04 D64 H41 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp and nep-soc
Date: 2014-01
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
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