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The impact of a surprise donation ask

Christine L. Exley and Ragan Petrie ()

Journal of Public Economics, 2018, vol. 158, issue C, 152-167

Abstract: Individuals frequently exploit “flexibility” built into decision environments to give less. They use uncertainty to justify options benefiting themselves over others, they avoid information that may encourage them to give, and they avoid the ask itself. In this paper, we examine whether a reluctance to give may arise even when such explicit flexibility is absent. We investigate whether merely alerting individuals to an upcoming prosocial ask — that is neither avoided nor occurs in an environment with flexibility — results in reduced prosocial behavior. That is, we investigate whether individuals use time to quickly find ways to decline prosocial asks and thus whether surprising individuals with prosocial asks increases compliance. Results from a field study and complementary online studies provide a clear answer: yes.

Keywords: Charitable giving; Prosocial behavior; Self-serving biases; Excuses (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D64 C93 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:158:y:2018:i:c:p:152-167

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