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Let me, or let George? Motives of competing altruists

Ted Bergstrom (), Rodney Garratt () and Greg Leo

Games and Economic Behavior, 2019, vol. 118, issue C, 269-283

Abstract: Simple game theoretic models suggest that when costly individual action can benefit an entire group, larger groups fare worse than smaller groups because of the free-rider problem arising from “diffusion of responsibility.” Nevertheless, there are conspicuous examples of large groups in which a minority of members voluntarily supply public goods that benefit the entire group. We propose that this happens because some people get pleasure from performing a good deed, even if others would be willing and able to do it. We call such behavior let-me-do-it altruism. We perform an experiment designed to identify the presence of let-me-do-it altruism in a population. Our approach is to create a context-rich environment in which subjects reveal their preferences over group outcomes by their actions. Treatment variations provide insights into how cost and recognition impact behavior.

Keywords: Volunteer's dilemma; Free-rider; Altruism; Donations; Let-me-do-it (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Working Paper: Let me, or Let George? Motives of competing altruists (2015) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2019.09.002

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