For a Dollar, Would You...? How (We Think) Money Affects Compliance with Our Requests

Posted: 2 May 2016

See all articles by Vanessa K. Bohns

Vanessa K. Bohns

Cornell University

Daniel Newark

HEC Paris

Amy Xu

University of Waterloo

Date Written: 2016


Research has shown a robust tendency for people to underestimate their ability to get others to comply with their requests. In five studies, we demonstrate that this underestimation-of-compliance effect is reduced when requesters offer money in exchange for compliance. In Studies 1 and 2, participants assigned to a no-incentive or monetary-incentive condition made actual requests of others. In both studies, requesters who offered no incentives underestimated the likelihood that those they approached would grant their requests; however, when requesters offered monetary incentives, this prediction error was mitigated. In Studies 3-5, we present evidence in support of a model to explain the underlying mechanism for this attenuation effect. Studies 3 and 4 demonstrate that offering monetary incentives activates a money-market frame. In Study 5, we find that this activation reduces the discomfort associated with asking, allowing requesters to more accurately assess the size of their request and, consequently, the likelihood of compliance.

Keywords: Compliance, Money, Morality, Prosocial Behavior, Social Influence, Behavioral Economics, Unethical Behavior

Suggested Citation

Bohns, Vanessa K. and Newark, Daniel and Xu, Amy, For a Dollar, Would You...? How (We Think) Money Affects Compliance with Our Requests (2016). Bohns, V. K., Newark, D. Xu, A. (2016). For a dollar, would you…? How (we think) money influences compliance with our requests. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 134, 45-62., Available at SSRN:

Vanessa K. Bohns (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

394 Ives Faculty Bldg
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Daniel Newark

HEC Paris ( email )

Amy Xu

University of Waterloo ( email )

Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics