Does Positive Feedback of Social Impact Motivate Prosocial Behavior? A Field Experiment with Blood Donors

21 Pages Posted: 29 May 2020 Last revised: 16 Jun 2020

See all articles by Lorenz Goette

Lorenz Goette

University of Lausanne; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Egon Tripodi

European University Institute - Economics Department (ECO); University of Bonn - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 1, 2020

Abstract

Positive feedback about the outcome of volunteers’ prosocial actions is often thought to help motivate continued volunteers’ engagement. In the context of blood donations, various collection systems have begun to provide blood donors feedback on successful utilization of their blood donation. An experiment conducted by the main NGO that supports the collection of blood in Italy studies how such feedback affects subsequent blood donations. From a sample of over 8’000 blood donors, we find that providing feedback of successful utilization decreases donations. Though surprising, these results are consistent with theoretical models in which individuals engage in prosocial behavior to sustain a positive self-image: feedback about the outcome of a recent donation can act as reminders that boost self-image and reduce the need for re-engaging soon in prosocial activities. Interestingly for policy, we also show that combining the feedback with an explicit request to sign up for a new donation can eliminate, but not overturn, the negative effect of the feedback.

Keywords: Prosocial Behavior, Blood Donations, Moral Licensing, Field Experiment

JEL Classification: C90, D83, D91

Suggested Citation

Goette, Lorenz F. and Tripodi, Egon, Does Positive Feedback of Social Impact Motivate Prosocial Behavior? A Field Experiment with Blood Donors (May 1, 2020). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 175C, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3590191 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3590191

Lorenz F. Goette

University of Lausanne ( email )

Department of Economics
Batiment Internef
Lausanne, 1015
Switzerland
(021) 692'3496 (Phone)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org

Egon Tripodi (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Economics Department (ECO) ( email )

Via delle Fontanelle, 18
Firenze (Florence), Tuscany 50014
Italy

University of Bonn - Department of Economics ( email )

Bonn
Germany

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