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Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially

34 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2007  

Dan Ariely

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Anat Bracha

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Stephan Meier

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Columbia Business School - Management

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2007

Abstract

This paper experimentally examines image motivation - the desire to be liked and well-regarded by others - as a driver in prosocial behavior (doing good), and asks whether extrinsic monetary incentives (doing well) have a detrimental effect on prosocial behavior due to crowding out of image motivation. By definition, image depends on one's behavior being visible to other people. Using this unique property we show that image is indeed an important part of the motivation to behave prosocially. Moreover, we show that extrinsic incentives interact with image motivation and are therefore less effective in public than in private. Together, these results imply that image motivation is crowded out by monetary incentives; which in turn means that monetary incentives are more likely to be counterproductive for public prosocial activities than for private ones.

Keywords: prosocial behavior, extrinsic incentives, image motivation, experiments

JEL Classification: D64, C90, H41

Suggested Citation

Ariely, Dan and Bracha, Anat and Meier, Stephan, Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially (August 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2968; FRB of Boston Working Paper No. 07-9. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1010620

Dan Ariely

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
(919) 381-4366 (Phone)

Anat Bracha

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston ( email )

600 Atlantic Ave.
Boston, MA 02210
United States

Stephan Meier (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston ( email )

600 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02210
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Columbia Business School - Management ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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