Self-Signaling and Prosocial Behavior: A Cause Marketing Mobile Field Experiment

42 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2015

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: August 2015

Abstract

We empirically test an information economics based theory of social preferences in which ego utility and self-signaling can potentially crowd out the effect of consumption utility on choices. Two large-scale, randomized controlled field experiments involving a consumer good and charitable donations are conducted using a subject pool of actual consumers. We find that bundling relatively large charitable donations with a consumer good can generate non-monotonic regions of demand. Consumers also self-report significantly lower ratings of “feeling good about themselves” when a large donation is bundled with a large price discount for the good. The combined evidence supports the self-signaling theory whereby price discounts crowd out a consumer’s self-inference of altruism from buying a good bundled with a charitable donation. Alternative theories of motivation crowding are unable to fit the non-monotonic moments in the data. A structural model of self-signaling is fit to the data to quantify the economic magnitude of ego utility and its role in driving consumer decisions.

Suggested Citation

Dube, Jean-Pierre H. and Luo, Xueming and Fang, Zheng, Self-Signaling and Prosocial Behavior: A Cause Marketing Mobile Field Experiment (August 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21475. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2649744

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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