Sign Me Up! A Model and Field Experiment on Volunteering
51 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2014 Last revised: 22 Jul 2018
Date Written: July 12, 2018
Building on theoretical and empirical literatures showing that choices not only reflect but also create preferences, we develop 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. We refer to this as a “failsafe” mechanism. We design and implement a field experiment to test the performance of the failsafe mechanism in promoting volunteerism in relation to alternatives approaches where the second-stage task involves the target task--volunteering. We find the failsafe mechanism to promote interest in volunteering significantly better than the alternatives.
Keywords: volunteering; incentives; pro-social attitudes; cognitive dissonance; field experiment
JEL Classification: C93; D02; D03; D04; D64; H41; Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation