Mobile Messaging for Offline Group Formation in Prosocial Activities: A Large Field Experiment

37 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2015

See all articles by Tianshu Sun

Tianshu Sun

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Guodong (Gordon) Gao

University of Maryland - R.H. Smith School of Business

Ginger Zhe Jin

University of Maryland - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 2015

Abstract

In this paper, we use mobile messaging to leverage recipients’ social ties and encourage offline prosocial activities in groups. In particular, we conduct a randomized field experiment with 80,000 blood donors and study how behavioral interventions and economic rewards motivate offline group formation. We find that two commonly used interventions—reminder messages and individual reward—are ineffective in motivating group formation because they do not compensate donors for the cost of bringing friends. In contrast, we find that group reward—a new reward that is contingent on a donor bringing a friend—is effective in motivating group formation. Furthermore, group reward tends to attract different types of donors, especially those who are traditionally less active in online social settings but have more local social ties. Structural estimation further reveals the underlying mechanisms, suggesting that group reward is four times more cost-effective than individual reward in driving total donation. Our study suggests that motivating offline group formation is a promising approach to boost prosocial activities.

Suggested Citation

Sun, Tianshu and Gao, Guodong (Gordon) and Jin, Ginger Zhe, Mobile Messaging for Offline Group Formation in Prosocial Activities: A Large Field Experiment (November 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21704. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2687853

Tianshu Sun (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

3670 Trousdale Parkway
Bridge Hall 310B
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Guodong (Gordon) Gao

University of Maryland - R.H. Smith School of Business ( email )

4325 Van Munching Hall
College Park, MD 20742
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/faculty/ggao/

Ginger Zhe Jin

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States
301-405-3484 (Phone)
301-405-3542 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
26
Abstract Views
316
PlumX Metrics