Social Recognition: Experimental Evidence from Blood Donors

57 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2021

See all articles by Lorenz Goette

Lorenz Goette

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

Egon Tripodi

University of Essex

Date Written: July 14, 2021


Does social recognition motivate repeat contributors? We conduct large-scale experiments among members of Italy's main blood donors association, testing social recognition both through social media and in peer groups. We experimentally disentangle visibility concerns, peer comparisons and simple ask effects, and we study how exposure to different norms of behavior affects giving. Overall, asking increases giving by 20.4 percent. However, a simple ask to donate is at least as effective as asks that emphasize social recognition. Using peer groups, we show that visibility concerns do not generate additional donations, and we find that donations respond weakly and non-monotonically to social norms of giving. In an original study and two subsequent replications, we find no evidence that donors give blood for the prospect of their donations being observed by others on social media. Overall, our findings caution against over-reliance on social recognition to promote good citizenship.

Keywords: Prosocial behavior, blood donations, social recognition, field experiments,social media, WhatsApp

JEL Classification: C93, D64, D91, H41, I12

Suggested Citation

Goette, Lorenz F. and Tripodi, Egon, Social Recognition: Experimental Evidence from Blood Donors (July 14, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Lorenz F. Goette

University of Lausanne ( email )

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

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072


Egon Tripodi (Contact Author)

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom


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