The Begging Game: On the Power of the Ask in Monetary Giving

Posted: 8 Aug 2019 Last revised: 29 Jun 2020

See all articles by Mark Ratchford

Mark Ratchford

Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business

Bart Victor

Vanderbilt University - Organization Studies

Ethan Pew

Columbia University - School of Professional Studies

Date Written: August 5, 2019

Abstract

The literature on monetary giving has largely focused on the psychological mechanisms that underlie prosocial giving behaviors. Yet in practice giving is almost always done in response to a solicitation or "ask." In this paper we study solicitation strategy, providing evidence that the "ask" may alter the nature of an exchange relationship in a manner that favors recipients relative to giving situations in which the recipient is passive. We introduce a variant of the dictator game called the "begging game" in which an individual can ask for some or all of an amount of money bestowed upon another individual. Our results indicate that both the asked for and received amounts in the begging game are systematically higher than typically shown in dictator games, while asks of half yield the best result in expectation. When counter-offers are allowed, 87.5% ask for half or more of the total sum, with 80% receiving at least some money. Hence large asks are often not punished. Our combined results help quantify the "power of the ask."

Keywords: Decision Making; Judgment; Game Theory; Giving; Asking

JEL Classification: D64, D90, G41

Suggested Citation

Ratchford, Mark and Victor, Bart Irwin and Pew, Ethan, The Begging Game: On the Power of the Ask in Monetary Giving (August 5, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3432540 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3432540

Mark Ratchford (Contact Author)

Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business ( email )

7 McAlister Drive
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

Bart Irwin Victor

Vanderbilt University - Organization Studies ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Ethan Pew

Columbia University - School of Professional Studies ( email )

203 Lewisohn Hall
2970 Broadway, MC 4119
New York, NY 10027
United States

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