Social Image Concerns and Prosocial Behavior: Field Evidence from a Nonlinear Incentive Scheme

Posted: 12 Mar 2011

See all articles by Nicola Lacetera

Nicola Lacetera

University of Toronto - Strategic Management; University of Toronto at Mississauga - Department of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Mario Macis

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 1, 2010

Abstract

Using longitudinal data on the entire population of blood donors in an Italian town, we examine how donors respond to a nonlinear award scheme that rewards them with symbolic prizes (medals) when they reach certain donation quotas. Our results indicate that donors significantly increase the frequency of their donations immediately before reaching the thresholds for which the rewards are given, but only if the prizes are publicly announced in the local newspaper and awarded in a public ceremony. The results are robust to several specifications, sample definitions, and controls for observable and unobservable heterogeneity. Our findings indicate that social image concerns are a primary motivator of prosocial behavior and that symbolic prizes are most effective as motivators when they are awarded publicly. We discuss the implications of our findings for policies aimed at incentivizing prosocial behavior.

Keywords: Incentives, Awards, Public good provision, Prosocial behavior, Public health, Social prestige

JEL Classification: D12, D64, I18

Suggested Citation

Lacetera, Nicola and Macis, Mario, Social Image Concerns and Prosocial Behavior: Field Evidence from a Nonlinear Incentive Scheme (November 1, 2010). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 76, No. 2, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1782808

Nicola Lacetera

University of Toronto - Strategic Management ( email )

Canada

University of Toronto at Mississauga - Department of Management

Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Mario Macis (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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