Nudging Generosity: Choice Architecture and Cognitive Factors in Charitable Giving

17 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2016 Last revised: 17 Oct 2016

See all articles by Jonathan Schulz

Jonathan Schulz

Harvard University

Petra Thiemann

Lund University - School of Economics and Management; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; USC Dornsife Institute for New Economic Thinking

Christian Thöni

University of Lausanne

Date Written: September 13, 2016

Abstract

In an experimental setup we investigate the effect of providing a list of default charities on donation decisions. In the treatment group, subjects can either specify a charity of their choice, or select one from a list of five well-known charities; in the control group we do not provide the list. In a sample of 869 subjects we find a large effect: Offering a list of default charities doubles the fraction of donors, as well as the revenue for charities, i.e., we observe a strong treatment effect on the extensive margin, but no effect at the intensive margin. We find that the treatment intervention particularly affects subjects who tend to make intuitive choices. Our results point to the importance of psychological factors like intuition in determining donation decisions, and suggest that the decision whether to donate and the decision on the donation amount are governed by two separate cognitive processes.

Keywords: charitable giving, donation, choice architecture, defaults, affective reactions

JEL Classification: C93, D64, H41, L3

Suggested Citation

Schulz, Jonathan and Thiemann, Petra and Thöni, Christian, Nudging Generosity: Choice Architecture and Cognitive Factors in Charitable Giving (September 13, 2016). USC-INET Research Paper No. 16-26. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2851172 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2851172

Jonathan Schulz (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Petra Thiemann

Lund University - School of Economics and Management ( email )

Tycho Brahes väg 1,
S-220 07 Lund, 223 63
Sweden

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

USC Dornsife Institute for New Economic Thinking ( email )

3620 S. Vermont Avenue, KAP 364F
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0253
United States

Christian Thöni

University of Lausanne ( email )

Lausanne, Vaud CH-1015
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/christianthoeni/

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