The Impact of a Surprise Donation Ask
39 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2016 Last revised: 21 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 18, 2017
Individuals frequently exploit “flexibility" built into decision environments to give less. They use subjectivity to justify options benefiting themselves over others, they avoid information that may encourage them to give, and they avoid the ask itself. In this paper, we examine whether a reluctance to give may arise even when such explicit flexibility is absent. We investigate whether merely alerting individuals to an upcoming prosocial ask ― that is neither avoided nor contains subjective components ― results in reduced prosocial behavior. That is, we investigate whether individuals use time to quickly find or develop their own flexibility and excuses not to give. Results from a field study and complementary online study provide a clear answer: yes.
Keywords: charitable giving, prosocial behavior, self-serving biases, excuses
JEL Classification: D64, C93
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation