Self-Signaling and Pro-Social Behavior: A Cause Marketing Experiment

42 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2015 Last revised: 25 Jun 2017

See all articles by Jean-Pierre Dubé

Jean-Pierre Dubé

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Xueming Luo

Temple University

Zheng Fang

Sichuan University - Business School

Date Written: November 9, 2015

Abstract

We test a self-signaling theory using two large-scale, randomized controlled field experiments. Smartphone users are randomly sampled to receive promotional offers for movie tickets via SMS technology. Subjects are exposed to different pre-determined levels of price discounts and charitable donations tied to the ticket purchase. The main effects of price discounts and charitable donations increase ticket demand. However, the combination of both discounts and donations can decrease ticket demand. In a post-purchase survey, the same subjects self-report lower ratings of “feeling good about themselves” as the motivation for buying a ticket when discounts and donations are both large. These findings are consistent with a self-signaling theory, whereby the discount crowds out the consumer's “warm-glow” feeling from the charitable donation. Alternative behavioral explanations are ruled out. A structural model of demand with self-signaling is fit to the data using a constrained optimization algorithm to handle the potential multiplicity of equilibria. The estimated preferences reveal that consumers do not derive consumption utility from donations bundled with the ticket. However, they derive significant diagnostic utility: the warm-glow feeling of the self-perception of valuing charitable donations.

Keywords: prosocial behavior, self-signaling, behavioral economics

JEL Classification: D4, D81, L00, M31

Suggested Citation

Dube, Jean-Pierre H. and Luo, Xueming and Fang, Zheng, Self-Signaling and Pro-Social Behavior: A Cause Marketing Experiment (November 9, 2015). Fox School of Business Research Paper No. 15-079. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2635808 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2635808

Jean-Pierre H. Dube (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://gsb.uchicago.edu/fac/jean-pierre.dube

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Xueming Luo

Temple University ( email )

1810 N. 13th Street
Floor 2
Philadelphia, PA 19128
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.fox.temple.edu/mcm_people/xueming-luo/

Zheng Fang

Sichuan University - Business School ( email )

China

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